Planned obsolescence is a nasty, negative phrase because it carries the connotation that a manufacturer only builds new products to make more money.
Well, isn’t that what capitalism is all about? More money? The reality is a bit different because techno-gadget manufacturers need to toe a fine line between blatant planned obsolescence and the ongoing need for more profits.
Oh, and, yes, Apple is into planned obsolescence, too.
While it is true that Apple’s hardware is among the best in their respective industries, and probably last longer and provide more use than competitors, hardware wears out and needs to be replaced.
Apple plans for that. See? Planned obsolescence.
That’s why we get upgrades to macOS, iOS, et al every year. Progress requires planned obsolescence, and the better the plan, the easier progress works for customers and companies.
Take Apple’s highly touted and much beloved AirPods. Please. Take them. Why? Because their built-in planned obsolescence is about two years. After that, the batteries begin to die and cannot be replaced at an Apple Store. The best you can get is a discount for a new pair of AirPods.
How is that not planned obsolescence?
Apple touts iPhone battery life as better than ever in iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro models, and my experience– so far– says that is true. Apple also says iPhone batteries should sustain about 80-percent of the original charge after three years of average use. In my experiences, that, too, seems true.
Sooner or later, though, all such battery-powered hardware reaches a point where the battery becomes useless, and that’s the case with AirPods and Apple Watch. These are nearly disposable products, therefore, Apple must have planned for their obsolescence.
That means we now have to accept that hardware will not last forever, and in the face of planned obsolescence, have a plan for the perpetual usage of newer products with more capabilities. Planned obsolescence is real, normal, and an indication of how things in life work.
Deal with it. Also, define it. Planned Obsolescence:
Planned obsolescence, or built-in obsolescence, in industrial design and economics is a policy of planning or designing a product with an artificially limited useful life, so that it becomes obsolete (i.e., unfashionable, or no longer functional) after a certain period of time.
That is the nature of why we buy, use, or consume. It’s how life works. It’s how a capitalist society works. All businesses seem to follow this strategy.
Producers that pursue this strategy believe that the additional sales revenue it creates more than offsets the additional costs of research and development, and offsets the opportunity costs of repurposing an existing product line. In a competitive industry, this is a risky policy, because consumers may decide to buy from competitors instead if they notice the strategy.
There is a reason AirPod batteries do not last 10 years. In three years, enough improvements are developed to entice customers to upgrade to the latest and greatest, and leave the old behind. We may lament a two-year battery life, but a five year battery life would come with a higher price tag.
Yes, Apple– as are almost every company on planet earth– is into planned obsolescence. That’s how the world works.