peacock's tail?

Do we all suffer from Peacock tail syndrome? A BBC program called “upgrade me” had an interesting proposition that people upgrade their gadgets (an other technology thingies) with the same psychological mind frame of a peacock.

You see, Peacock’s tail serves no purpose other than to show off during the courtship. Peacock by displaying a very well maintained long tail is making a statement – “look how strong I am”!!!

Being a tech junkie myself and having so many friends who are gadget junkies, I can’t help but wonder – Do we use all these gadgets like a peacock’s tail? A way of saying “look I am important because I have such a latest gadget”?

I can recognize such behavior all around us. People buying most expensive car that they can (or at time can’t) afford. People living in homes that are beyond their means. Wearing clothes which are patently “LOOK AT ME”.

But, tech?

Difficult to say. Most of my relatives (in fact almost all of them) can’t distinguish between an ordinary phone and a smart phone. They won’t care much about the complex web of protocols that makes internet happen, all they know is they have to click on Firefox to get somewhere.

How would you impress someone, with things they won’t understand?

Only other possibility is that I am trying to impress my peer group.. Could that be so?

The reality is almost always I am behind my peer group in most tech acquisition, and normally buy it after the ‘peak of expectations’ in gartner Hype Cycle. But, do others in my peer group trying to make a statement?

I don’t think so either. Most of the peer group I have are all technically savvy people who are genuinely interested in technology. They see use for  new technology and can think of so many things they can do with them that most others can’t.

So, if they bought a expensive designer phone (like Vertu mobiles), I’d say ‘yeah’ there goes the peacock tail.

Peacock’s tail is purely a biological farce. It has absolutely no use but as an attention grabber.But, almost all of the tech my friends buy are put to good use.

But, every so often I feel we do develop a variation of the syndrome – Like the iPhone I got. I have come to realize that I was just as happy with any other smart phone (having used Blackberry, Palm & Nokia). But, I still wanted iPhone. I don’t think the purpose was to show off to others as much as satisfy my own curiosity and tech lust.


The concept of peacock’s tail does hold a good lesson for a good software product design. It isn’t sufficient to design a product that does its job, it should also provide that extra something, that makes people want to own it.

Make people want to upgrade from the previous version, which already does almost everything they want to do. iPods and iPhones are nothing but just good examples of such terrific product designs.

They do offer fantastic tails to people like me, even though the ownership of these gadgets are impressing no one else but oneself. 🙂


One thought on “peacock's tail?

  1. Nice analogy sir! 🙂

    My daughter wants everything advertised on TV, and just as you say, its out of her curiousity and not being affected by the “Peacock’s Tail” syndrome. 🙂

    So – similarly, there’s (likely) a kid in all of us… Keeping up our excitement & curiousity for devices & technology. 😉

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