In this modern, digital era, it won’t be unreasonable to draw a parallel between the relationship with your phone and girlfriend. It is all electric and harmonious initially, but as the time passes by, things get a little monotonous (for the lack of better word). Do you also feel the same about your phone? It worked with the lightning fast speed, it slows down with every passing year. But after all, why is my phone hanging so much? Isn’t it meant to last for longer periods? Well actually not.
What if I say, your phones are specifically designed in a way that they become obsolete after a period. Even worse, non responsive, constantly hanging pieces of brick? Okay, enough cribbing about your phones! Say you are printing a word document which is purely black and white. Your printer makes wicked noises as usual and shows a pop up on the screen that says printer has ran out of ‘red’ ink. You wonder that your document doesn’t even have red colour. You think if is this for real? Unfortunately, it is! All these are examples of planned obsolescence.
What is Planned Obsolescence?
Planned obsolescence is the process of designing the products purposely of such a quality so that they become obsolete after a fixed period of time. It is the process of deliberately shortening the replacement cycle of the product so that customers tend to buy a newer version sooner that they would actually do. So by shortening the lifecycle, you generate more repeat demand. Capitalism at its best!
So it all began with something called Phoebus Cartel. This cartel back in 1924 decided that all the light bulbs produced will be made to last NOT more than a 1000 hours consciously. This was 50% less than the earlier lifespan of a light bulb. This led to a jump in light bulb sales soon after this was implemented. Therefore, a carefully orchestrated crooked strategy was born which is called planned obsolescence in the modern times. So next time when you ask for a new cellphone because older one just won’t work, and your mother accuses your abuse and overuse as the reason behind this, show her this article!
Modern Day Planned Obsolescence in Phones:
While we discussed the example of printers, in this article I would cover how our beloved cellphone manufacturers are leading this industry practice from the front. Let us explore some examples of the same:
Remember the times when your phone’s battery acted up, you could simply get it replaced for under a 1000 bucks? While I agree that modern day batteries would cost more, but let the customer replace them at least? Phones come up with glued back panels so that it is harder to open them without breaking. Is there any rationale behind this? I don’t see one!
While each new upgrade comes with plethora of new features, it has been observed that older phones slow down after upgrade. Apple admitted to do this practice citing a lame reason of saving battery. Bull Crap! Also, upgrades are now being made mandatory for many devices.
This is where the new version of phone comes with better aesthetics rather than any real offerings. Example of such phones would be Oneplus’s McLaren edition phones, iPhone’s Rose Gold colour. These are often clubbed with an improved 2 GBs of RAM to justify the inflated value. However, I reality, it doesn’t make much of a difference.
I was recently a victim of this obsolescence. Google recently updated it’s playstore policy. As per the new policy, any upgrade in the application will make it NON supportive for devices running on devices running on Android 5.x or older versions. Many of the direct sales executives could not use the latest release of our internal application.
Next time, don’t beat yourself if your phone ditches you. Also, don’t vent out that frustration on your phone. Trust me, it’s not you! It’s them. Are you also a victim of planned obsolescence? Do you think it is fair for the companies to adopt this approach to sell more? Let me know in the comment section below or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.