This morning I downloaded an update on the software for my iPhone. As so often happens with software updates, it completely screwed up the device, requiring me to spend an hour with tech support trying to get things fixed.
One frequently faces the choice of whether to update software or not. The gains are some extra features. The out-of-pocket cost may be zero (as with the free iPhone download) or it may be substantial.
But in all cases there can be a substantial opportunity cost of one’s time, a cost that is often much larger than one expects (since in many cases things will not work right away).
Moreover, this opportunity cost is a fixed cost — it doesn’t seem to be any greater whether I download a new version shortly after its most recent predecessor, or if I wait for several new versions before updating. While the gain to updating rises the longer one waits to update — and the monetary costs may be higher too — the fixed costs of updating are constant.
That being the case, one needs to consider both types of cost before going ahead to update. I was attracted by the slight potential improvement to my iPhone, but I forgot about the fixed costs and paid the penalty of an hour of wasted time.