What promises to make people more productive ends up making them more anxious. If a child or a romantic partner don’t text back right away, Roberts notes, people assume the worst. Just a decade ago teenagers could spend all day out of touch without triggering a panic attack in their parents.
While consumers may not benefit financially from an endless upgrade cycle, plenty of companies do. “Early upgrade plans” let smartphone buyers replace phones every year — for an extra fee. In the past year, enrollment in those plans has more than quadrupled, NPD Group found, from 7 percent of phone owners last September to 31 percent in June.