Planned Obsolescence

Planned obsolescence does exist and is an evil that is hid in jargon such as optimum lifespan and product cycle…but certainly some products are designed to break. John had one of those iPods with the dodgy battery, and yes it failed just over year of constant use when I borrowed it – eventually started leaking in fact! From Nylons to printers, the lack of sustainable production and products is a serious problem…and yes Apple is one of the worst, making their products harder and harder to fix. So this documentary ‘The Lightbulb Conspiracy: The Untold Story of Planned Obsolescence’ is a must watch. (via Mikkel aka DJ MiF)

I saved myself £300 by fixing my own keyboard on this Mac Book Pro I am typing on – they said I had to replace the whole top, aluminium and all! How wasteful, and expensive. Where it turns out that the keyboard is easily replaceable if you look online (MBP 2010 17″ A297 keyboards can be replaced, for those Googling – follow the instructions for the 15″) but it’s a really fiddly job with nearly a 100 screws. I’m sure Apple doesn’t care about user serviceability just wants to sell more expensive parts, but that isn’t very good for the environment, and aluminium does not grow on trees. As said in the documentary, the internet makes a real difference in doing DIY fixes, but the companies make it quite hard – I skipped on fixing DJ Charles IV for instance after seeing how hard & fiddly it was.

Similarly it can have negative effects on the consumer – I used to support HTC who are now struggling, and I’m not surprised they are since I had my old Desire Z screen break 3 times – even when not dropped, it was really fragile. The repair place said they got that model in a lot, and it wasn’t a cheap phone, which suggests either some very bad design or more likely planned obsolescence. So I switched to Samsung which seem to create products that are durable – dropped mine a few times now and although the glass is cracked, it still works fine.

Although I have to say I’m not sure about the Phoebus Lightbulb example, as far as I can tell it’s a trade off between lifespan and light produced, but I’m sure like with GE and electric cars and trams, or RCA and FM radio further advances probably were stopped or ignored, like the East German long-life bulbs. Goes to show that the communists weren’t wrong when it came to resources, out of necessity of the cold war rather than choice, I hasten to add.

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