The Real Reason Apple and Google Want You to Use Your Phone Less

Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal
Jun 4, 2018 · 4 min read
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Safety = Sales

Consider why you wear a seat belt. In 1968, the Federal Government mandated that seat belts come equipped in all cars. However, nineteen years before any such regulation, American car makers started offering seat belts as a feature. The laws came well after car makers started offering seat belts because that’s what consumers wanted. Car makers who sold safer cars sold more.

Safer Ships

The history of innovation is littered with examples of new technologies causing unintended harm. As cultural theorist Paul Virilio said, “When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck.” Although the devices these modern shipbuilders make certainly have potential negative consequences, like overuse, it’s also in their interests to make their products less harmful.

Here’s the gist:

  • Although it may seem against their interests, Apple and Google know helping people use their phone less is good for their businesses.
  • With very few exceptions, when a product harms people, they use it less or look for alternatives.
  • Apple and Google have an incentive to fix harmful aspects of their just like car makers have an incentive to make cars safer.

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Nir Eyal

Written by

Nir Eyal

Want to overcome distraction? Get my free 80-page guide to becoming “Indistractable” at: NirAndFar.com

Psychology of Stuff

Interesting thoughts at the intersection of technology, psychology, and business

Nir Eyal

Written by

Nir Eyal

Want to overcome distraction? Get my free 80-page guide to becoming “Indistractable” at: NirAndFar.com

Psychology of Stuff

Interesting thoughts at the intersection of technology, psychology, and business

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