The iPhone 5 just finally saw the light of day, and like lemmings the Apple Addicts flocked  online or to actual brick and mortar Apple stores or those of the carriers and signed up for yet another two year contract. Said two year wireless service contract will set the Apple addict back about  $2000, even if the iPhone was just about “free”. Us nonbelievers just wander over to whoever has the best deal on an Android smart phone, pay a couple hundred bucks for it up front, and pay about half the iPhone’s monthly rate for essentually the same quality phone and service.


Admittedly the iPhone had a head start and created the market, and early Android phones did not compare well to the iPhone. But by now the Android OS system has matured and the experts rate the Android phones as at least equals of the iPhone, and for half the price if you shop around a bit. But in the first few days of the iPhone 5’s introduction, millions have already been bought. It’s not hard to see why- wander around Facebook and you’ll see that the iPhone is more an exclusive club than a phone, and to stay a member in good standing you have to pay and pay again for the latest and greatest from Apple. The marketing gurus call this “relationship marketing” and such…

‘Tain’t nothin’ new… Back when I bought a Ranger pickup in 1997 it was obvious I’d joined a club, or at least the lady’s auxiliary thereof… Despite it’s impressive hauling ability, the Ranger and other compact trucks suffer under a “girly” image. But all the guys at the shop liked the Ranger, and congratulated me for “steppin’ up” from my VW Golf diesel. A little observation from the lady’s auxiliary corner of the Ford pickup “club” showed me that the F150 was damn near a part of manhood itself, as Ford truck guys everywhere compare notes and praise their Ford pickups.

But the reality ain’t all so… you can’t even buy a Ford pickup with a manual tranny anymore, and seems like even the “fleet” pickups come with power windows and a bunch of mod cons. Same over at the Chevy/GMC and Dodge Ram clubs, though if you really insist, Dodge will let you shift for yourself. And while all these pickups have prodigious hauling ability, few owners use those abilities. My understanding is that the best selling pickup configuration is a half ton 4 door extended cab with a short box, and the most popular accessory seems to be a cover for that little pickup box. Decoded, that means the average customer is a city slicker who really wants a big old 4 door sedan with some utilitarian image (apologies to you guys and gals that really do need a big ‘ol pickup to haul your tools, parts, feed, etc. around).

So how is the F150 like the iPhone? In an analog way, Ford has discovered and cultivated a market that will buy and promote the F150 to join and maintain membership in a “club”.  Same with the Silverado and Ram pickups at GM and Chrysler.

And a followup to the Ranger’s T-case disfunctions: I slathered up the shift motor’s electrical connectors in contact cleaner and put them through several plug/unplug cycles. Then performed a light (rubber mallet) “percussive reset” on the shift motor. The T-case then finally shifted into 4WD high range, but failed the further shift to 4WD low. Noted the flashing T-case status light and remembering that to protect itself from whatever, the computer won’t allow a shift ’til the fault is cleared. So disconnected the battery a minute, hooked the power back up, and the T-case repeatedly shifted into 4WD high to 4WD low and back with no problem. Amazing what you can fix(?) with contact cleaner and a rubber mallet…