Is Planned Obsolescence Obsolete?

2 Jan ’07

Mike Masnick posts on the issue of whether accelerating innovation in consumer electronics is rendering planned obsolescence, well, obsolete. The idea is that shortening technology lifecycles are in some cases making planned obsolescence lifecycles moot. There’s no question but that this is happening – I’ve retired a lot of hardware in recent years not because of any malfunction, but just because of the new new thing. Most celphone users already understand this very well. Mike notes “it’s not really clear how that’s any different than how things used to be. People have always struggled with the timing on when to buy computers or consumer electronics, knowing that there was always a next generation coming, and today’s products would just get cheaper.” I’d disagree with that, or at least say that it depends on when things “used to be”. Perhaps I’m dating myself, but growing up my family had a colour TV for over 20 years, and there wasn’t really anything that interesting to upgrade to. Other electronics were similar. This one strikes me as a development of the last 20 years.

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