Is there any more potent a symbol of our civilization’s shift away from oil dependency and sprawl than a mobile devices company growing larger..?
As young people turn away from cars — a phenomenon so powerful that it has had the marketing departments of car companies running scared for years — they are left with no other option than mass transit, and that means increased density, urbanism, walkability and everything else required to bring our way of life in line with planetary boundaries.
Millennials aren’t just fleeing the automobile; they’re also explicitly fleeing McMansions and the suburbs. As S. Mitra Kalita and Robbie Whelan reported in the Wall Street Journal:
Gen Y housing preferences are the subject of at least two panels at this week’s convention. A key finding: They want to walk everywhere. Surveys show that 13% carpool to work, while 7% walk, said Melina Duggal, a principal with Orlando-based real estate adviser RCLCO. A whopping 88% want to be in an urban setting, but since cities themselves can be so expensive, places with shopping, dining and transit such as Bethesda and Arlington in the Washington suburbs will do just fine.
The ascension of Apple, a company in the vanguard of firms that make devices you don’t need until you have one and become hopelessly addicted, literally represents a wealth transfer from the old economy — cars, oil, long commutes — to a new one built on a desire to capitalize on virtual connectivity by recapitulating it in the real world. The mechanism of this wealth transfer are consumers themselves, who are making decisions every day to buy an iPad instead of a new car, or to move closer to work so that they don’t have to drive at all.