Skip to main content

The iOS 7 nausea issue: Are iPhone users prone to mass hysteria?

If you search for "iOS 7" and "nauseous" on Twitter, you'll find tweets like these:

@TIMEHealthland: iOS 7 is making some people nauseous.

@SiSiSmiles: I told my mom I have been feeling nauseous. And she said she heard on the news that ios7 has been giving those symptoms. Oh? Um? What?

@sinofacio: Is #iOS7 making users dizzy and nauseous..! Users on Apple Forums complain.

Then there are links to sensational stories such as: “Apple iOS 7 is sickening users, doctor confirms.”

This is a version of mass hysteria and perhaps a well-designed smear campaign to hamper Apple and the iPhone. It is ludicrous that anyone is getting nauseous from the interface but one article even cited a user who complained about having to leave work, sick as a dog. What a crock.

Here are the real possibilities:

1. A vocal few who dislike the new iOS 7 began to complain. One of them said the UI was literally nauseating if you played with it too much. Soon everyone was dizzy and complaining. This is where suggestibility and mass hysteria come into play. I personally think the interface is hard to read, but nauseating? Bullcrap. The Windows Phone UI has more screen activity going on than this.

2. The Android folks dreamed up a guerrilla marketing scheme. This whole thing could have been planted by Android public relations specialists or even some rogue group within Google that thought it would be a fun gag. While the company is not known for this sort of subversive marketing, it does have people creative enough to concoct those odd April Fools’ jokes, so it is certainly possible. This would be very difficult to prove if true.

3. The TV networks want Apple to advertise more. One of the articles came from Fox, where, as far as I can tell, Apple runs very little advertising. I know some people think this sort of thing is "conspiratorial thinking" but it happens. These bogus stories might suddenly disappear after a few well-placed ad buys.

4. The phone might actually make a small segment of the population sick for idiosyncratic reasons. We do know, for example, that a certain kind of screen flash or strobe can trigger a seizure. Perhaps some people susceptible to car sickness are indeed upset by all the weird stuff going on with this phone. If that's true, these people should use a different phone.

So is that the key to the story? If the phone makes you sick, get a different phone? How hard can it be to exchange the phone for something less sickening?

Therein lies the rub as iPhone users demand to use the iPhone. These folks are extremely vulnerable to suggestion and mass hysteria. We witnessed this with the "Antennagate" fiasco. Today's Apple faithful are uniquely gullible. This is not a bad thing necessarily as it forms a very stable market for specific products. The downside is the group is like a mob and gets upset easily – hence the mass hysteria.

So what's the truth here? I believe it's a combination of number one and number four – some people with genuine problems (a very, very few) triggered mass hysteria. Expect this to blow over soon.