Columbia Business School study finds we ‘accidentally’ break or lose our iPhones to justify upgrades

A study by the the Columbia Business School has concluded that consumers grow more reckless with their iPhones when they are seeking an excuse to upgrade to a new model. The study – jointly conducted by three professors of marketing, psychology and business – was based on both consumer interviews and a dataset showing how incidents of lost iPhones coincide with the launch of new models …


Carelessness and neglect toward currently owned products stem from a desire to justify the attainment of upgrades without appearing wasteful. A series of studies with actual owners of a wide range of different goods (e.g., durable, consumable, functional, and hedonic products) and evidence from a real-word dataset of lost Apple iPhones demonstrate how the availability of product upgrades increases cavalier behavior toward possessions. Moreover, the authors demonstrate that product neglect in the presence of attractive upgrades can occur without deliberate intentions.

Data on lost iPhones showed that they peaked immediately prior to the launch of a new one, with consumers also admitting to being less careful with their devices when a new model was available, reports Mashable.

“We would feel guilty about upgrading without a reason—but if our current product were damaged or depleted, we’d have a justification to upgrade without appearing wasteful,” Bellezza of Columbia said in a statement. “So, we use our phone in the rain or leave our laptop behind at airport security without being aware that our carelessness has an underlying motivation.”

Of course, as iPhones and other iDevices grow more waterproof, we may have to get more creative in our ‘accidents’ …



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