Planned Obsolescence

The word’s out, guys – Apple is coming out with the iPhone 5 sometime in September. No pictures or specs yet, but check it out!

Speaking of updates, ever get the feeling that if you waited “just a little bit longer” to get that new phone, a newer version of it would come out and thus be totally more worth buying instead? Or that getting a new phone is always pointless because it’ll probably go out of style after a few months so you stick to your 5-year-old phone instead? I just think it’s a little ridiculous how Apple and other companies release stuff so soon after releasing the old…new stuff. Which is why I kept using my Sony Ericsson phone for the last 5 years. It still works, it’s still stylish, and it can take better pictures than my new one. And it has FREE GAMES that I don’t have to spend money to download off the internet.

Which brings me to the idea of ‘planned obsolescence’. I first came across this term in high school Design Technology class, and the teacher was explaining this concept where companies deliberately make their product in such a way that it would break down sooner rather than later. How soon depended on the product. Like light bulbs. Companies can actually make light bulbs last a lot longer than they currently do, but they don’t or else light bulb makers would be bankrupted before you can say “Nownooneneedstochangethelightbulbbecauseitnevergoesout!” And ever notice how your 20-year-old fan outlasted your 5-year-old fan? Yeah, that’s planned obsolescence at work, since 20 years ago manufacturers hadn’t quite grasped the concept of making stuff break down faster.

I know companies have to make money, or else the economy would fall to bits, but I just wish companies like Apple would slow down a bit with releasing improved versions of things. It gets a little ridiculous at times, and people end up wasting money on getting the most up-to-date thing that they didn’t really need to get in the first place. But I suppose designers and engineers and manufacturers get bored if they’re not doing anything productive, or risk getting fired. Ha. And I guess I won’t be saying this when they finally manage to make the holographic phone that pops out of your GPS watch.

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