The 5 Stages of iPhone Acceptance

The 5 Stages of iPhone Acceptance

Summary: The Five Stages of the Kübler-Ross modelThe iPhone has become such a part of our collective consciousness that soon entire books are going to be written about the sociological impact of such a groundbreaking, Insanely Great device. Why, it's so dammed important, that it's probably pointless to write about any other pressing computing or technology issue.



The Five Stages of the Kübler-Ross model

The iPhone has become such a part of our collective consciousness that soon entire books are going to be written about the sociological impact of such a groundbreaking, Insanely Great device. Why, it's so dammed important, that it's probably pointless to write about any other pressing computing or technology issue.

In fact, this became the case on ZDNet last week, where virtually every other kind of computer and technology news (with the exception of MicroHoo, because God knows, we can't go two minutes without another Yahoo-Microsoft merger post -- EDITOR'S NOTE: Can't we treat MicroHoo like the major media outlets treat Paris Hilton?) became pointless. Heck, I might as well have not even bothered to blog last week had I not jumped in last minute on a Friday to see what all this iPhone 3G crap was all about.

In the early 70's, Swiss psychiatrist Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross became known for her five stage model on the process of how people deal with grief and tragedy. Well, given the fact that nobody gives a rat's posterior about anything else except for iPhone 3G, I'm going through my own personal grief cycle. Don't we care about ragging on Vista anymore? What about Linux? Virtualization? Global Warming? Service Oriented Architecture? The Energy Crisis? Web 2.0? The Recession? Anyone?

In any case, I decided it might be interesting to apply the five-stage Kübler-Ross model to iPhone fatigue.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

1. Denial

The initial response was, "Why do I need one of these things if there are so many other good choices out there?" What the flipping hell do I need to spend $400.00 on a goddamned cell phone for? Who the @#$% needs one?

My own personal denial was documented in Linux Magazine when the iPhone was first launched. My initial arguments were that iPod and iPhone were proprietary systems that were eventually going to get wiped off the earth by cheaper and more competitive Open Source-based solutions. Unfortunately, since I wrote the first version of that article on my own personal blog back in 2006, none of those things happened. Despite all the movement in Open Source, not a single contender has come forth with a compelling enough product to unseat Apple's dominance of the smartphone and digital music player market.

But hope still exists. Symbian recently was acquired by Nokia, and a multi-vendor effort is underway to Open Source the entirety of that system. Google's Linux and Java-based Android is under active development, this despite a delayed launch between Q4/08 and Q1/09.

2. Anger

The iPhone of course became extremely popular, and this incensed the hell out of me. So I looked for various outlets to become receptacles for my rage. First I wanted to do bodily harm to the iPhone. Then, when that didn't fill the void in my soul, I resorted to guilting others with their purchase and their obsession with the device. While I have gone through stages 3 and 4, and I am approaching stage 5, I'm still defaulting back to stage 2. So maybe I still need time to heal.

3. Bargaining

Me: Hello, good sir. do you have any iPhone 3G's left?

Storeperson: No, we ran out of them early this morning when all the freakazoids who camped out overnight took them all. You got here too late, dumbass.

Me: But surely, you're gonna get another shipment of them soon?

Storeperson: Maybe. Possibly tomorrow.

Me: So I can pay $200.00 now and you'll call me when it comes in?

Storeperson: Not on your life, fat boy.

4. Depression:

Me: Goddammit, the bastards bought all the iPhones. Why am I the only self-respecting geek without one now? I want to kill myself.

5. Acceptance:

Rachel: I really don't need to buy one of these on the first day, sweetie. Can we go home now?

Me: Sure honey. Really, what the hell was I thinking? Only a complete dweeb with no life whatsoever would actually go out, skip work, and buy one on the first day.

Rachel: And frankly, I can just live with a regular iPod or some generic MP3 player and carry a regular cell phone. It's not that important.

Me:  So can we get an iPhone 3G next week?

Rachel: Okay.

What iPhone Kübler-Ross stage are you in? Talk Back and let me know.

Topics: Software, Hardware, iPhone, Linux, Mobility, Networking, Open Source, Operating Systems, Wi-Fi


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • I think Kubler-Ross missed one

    Actually, there is one that should be added: Apathy. I guess it would start at the same stage as Denial, but never progresses beyond the simple "who cares" level.

    I won't ever buy an iPhone...why not? Because I don't care about having one. If I won one, I wouldn't use it...I have no need to use one whatsoever. All I need is a phone.

    I could never, and will never, understand using a tiny screen to surf, email, and/or watch videos.
    • Because consumerism makes people feel good

      When you buy something like an iPhone, you get all excited about all the possibilities. You imagine yourself surfing the web in busses, watching movies on the plane, etc. In reality much of it will never materialize, and your life will not really be better with an iPhone than without it, but that is how consumerism works.

      People in general would be better off buying less and saving more. With saving comes security and peace of mind. With iPhone come continuing charges and a standard of living that you will not be able to maintain for more than a month if you lost your job. Without financial security you become more stressed out, you fear for your job, so you work harder, and that may push you into eating and buying more toys.

      US population work very hard and has 0 savings. We are all really fat, unhealthy and stressed out. I blame in part the rampant consumerism.
      • The US government...

        ...sent me money and told me it was my patriotic duty to spend it,
        I'm just doing my part for this great nation I live in.
        • Exactamondo!!

          Good one ;-)
      • patriotic

        that is a great example of patriotism he is a model for al of
    • Talk about people who don't have lives.

      What is it with this cohort who seem to have nothing to do but
      hang out at ZDNet hoping to be the first with a negative response
      to every story that mentions the iPhone?
      • Trolling is living

        For me it's either trolling ZDNet or working. But hey, at least I did not spend a night in line waiting for iPhone.
        • Neither did I

          I ordered one from the AT&T store after all the freaks left. I'll pick
          it up later this week. My sister is eagerly waiting to get her hands
          on my v1 iPhone.
      • What?

        "Hoping to be the first with a negative response to every story that mentions the iPhone"

        Who, me? Are you crazy? I think this is the first time I have EVER commented on an iPhone story, and I only commented because I thought his K-R theory was funny...but lacked one "stage". Yeesh.

        So, you have an iPhone...for some reason you think it will make your life better. Good for you. Paying that much money for a device that is locked into a crappy contract seems stupid to me, but hey, it's your money. Enjoy the "status" symbol.
    • re:I think Kubler-Ross missed one

      There is another stage...
      Goodness Gracious, Pea-Picking...NO!
      I am not about to sign onto some long term bad AT&T contract and be gouged
    • AMEN!! Amen, amen, amen, amen!!!!!

      Nothing more need be said. I could, but I will be polite and not...
    • APATHY?

      You are so apathetic that you were the first one to post.
  • iPhone is a good device but not for me

    Reasons why I will not be getting the iPhone:

    1. I am kind of geek that prides himself on being able to do everything on a cheap computer that people with more expensive can do and more. That is why All my machines are five generations behind currently latest and greatest.
    2. I hate being locked into something. Buying software from iTunes only and being married to AT&T would really irk me.
    3. I would like to promote software freedom. Apple's business practices really bother me. Things like forcing people to spend big bucks to replace battery on an iPhone are just dishonest.
    4. I pride myself on being non-conformist. I can understand some tween going crazy over Hannah Montana tickets. I cannot understand a grown man spending the night in front of an Apple store to be the first one to purchase an expensive toy. The phone will be there next week people! It may even be significantly cheaper next week.
    5. It is expensive! Someone calculated that if young person bought an iPhone now, and stuck with the service plan for years, that person would have spent million dollars by the time they retire.
    • Why the need!

      Why do some feel the need to lecture others about the monthly cost? Obviously if the one million that bought it this past weekend could not afford it, they probably would not off bought it hamobu. There are other plans that's more expensive than the ATT+iPhone plan you know.
      • You give people too much credit

        Do you really think people only buy things they can afford? It is not like we do not have mortgage crisis right now, or people drowning in credit card debt.

        And the fact that iPhone costs so much is not obvious. Apple is too happy to show off $199 sticker price, but hidden charges remain hidden. Plus do you really thing that million people that bought an iPhone did the calculation of how much it really costs.
    • Explanation to why grown man spend the night in front of an Apple store

      Simply because they are actors paid by Apple :)
  • Take a deep breath and get over it.

    You really aren't expending this much energy and time over a stupid cell phone...please say this is a joke. And an iPhone?? An overpriced, overhyped, proprietary toy. Free yourself from the mindless masses who cannot control their need to be just like everyone else, and say loud and proud, "No stupid iPhone for me, I am a free thinking individual."
    • Recognize satire when you see it <NT>

      • Semantic Musings

        One wonders if a satire is well executed if everyone
        recognizes it as satire.
        • Re: Semantic Musings

          I know is I laughed out loud at step 4. It was clearly intended to be humorous, and I thought it was generally successful.