Planned Obsolescence: How the Industry Causes Tech Gadget Addiction

by Guest Author on January 31, 2011

in Articles, Guest Posts

We’ve all heard about how addicting our current technological gadgets can be. It’s not uncommon to run across at least one article in a major newspaper decrying the constant, obsessive use of our smart phones. We’ve heard the horror stories of accidents caused by texting while driving, and we’re also constantly reminded how screen addiction can adversely impact our mental health, stress levels, etc.

While the constant updating and communication enabled by these gadgets can become addicting on a certain level, there is another, perhaps more insidious addiction involving tech gadgets. This addiction is not to the gadget itself or even to its one or two attendant applications, but rather it’s an addiction to having the newest, latest gadget. It’s a consumer addiction that is becoming so much more apparent now that computing becomes faster and cheaper with every successive year.

Now many of us will blame this addiction to the newest thing on human weaknesses like greed, compulsion, or what have you. However, what many don’t know is that gadgets don’t become obsolete, thus necessitating a new version, on their own. Rather, in many cases, companies like Apple and Sony plan the lifespan of their products, and will do their best to make sure that their lifespan is limited. This “planned obsolescence,” an actual term in the industry, enables companies to seek greater profits over shorter periods of time. After all, if your shiny new i-Whatever dies in less than a year, you can be sure that there will be a better, faster product to fulfill your tech gadget desires.

While some of this may reek of conspiracy, acclaimed technology writer Mike Elgan wrote an article for ComputerWorld on this very phenomenon the programmatic life-span cutting of consumer products by companies for the express purpose of driving profits. Elgan argues that while this has become a normal practice in companies producing consumer products, dating back to the beginnings of mass production in the 1930s, it is now out of control in the technology sector. The only way to stop this is to research our technology gadgets carefully. By favoring long battery life and the ability to get components of our products fixed and replaced over other considerations like speed, applications, and design, we can affectively stop the consumer demand for cheaply made products that break after a few months.

What do you think about planned obsolescence? What criteria do you look for when purchasing new technology gadgets?

Guest article written by: Raine Parker, regularly writes on the topics of online accounting degree.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: [email protected]

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

TJ McDowell February 3, 2011 at 16:45

Hmm, I don’t think this is anything new. I’d be interested to see the percentages of users that fall into the category you’re talking about. We’ve always seen innovators and early adopters as eager to try something new – whether it’s a new cell phone or a new car. Check out this graph on the usual pattern of consumer purchase patterns:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_of_innovations
Thoughts?
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Klaus February 4, 2011 at 08:37

Interesting graph, TJ. I don’t know much about that stuff but it looks and sounds very reasonable to me.

I think I belong to the “early adaptors”-group 🙂
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future technology February 3, 2011 at 23:57

Talking about gadget addiction, my 12-year-old son has this. He is constantly on eBay or Craiglist looking for the latest and greatest whatever. Sometimes he’s successful buying and selling and breaking even. I keep telling him he’ll need to have a good paying job in the future so he can afford to buy everything he wants in life.

FYI – using your real name on a dofollow blog has no value whatsoever unless you use your real name as your domain name. So for instance if you go to someone else’s blog and use your real name, say “joe smith” in the dofollow blog and link it to techpatio this will have no effect on the search engines whatsoever which defeats the purpose of a dofollow blog.
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Klaus February 4, 2011 at 08:35

I would have greeted you with your name here, but since you ignored my request to use a real name instead of keywords, I can’t 🙂 And for that reason, I deleted your URL (as I do with everybody who ignores that request). But since you did leave a real comment I let your CommentLuv link stay – as dofollow.

A do-follow link is a do-follow link no matter what text it has on it. You still get the same “link juice”. You don’t get the SEO benefits in terms of link text, of course. But since this blog is not a link directory or a hunting ground for wannabe SEO’s trying to market their own SEO services or cheap airline tickets for the UK etc. from an IP address in India or Philippines, I have decided to request users to enter their Name in the Name field if they want to comment here – for the sake of discussion and conversation.
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