Spilt; The Case Of Apple’s Planned Obsolescence.

Pius Serugo

Pius Serugo

, Technology

It’s not always a good feeling when you get to know that your time with your expensive phone, laptop is just a firmware version away from bogging down.

Let there be a realistic cause, but a planned move to bog-down a tech-toy after just a few months to indirectly force you to upgrade is another thing. Today, Apple faces investigation over the ‘game’.

Natasha Lomas of the techcrunch.com can confirm that HOP (Halte à l’Obsolescence Programmée), a French consumer rights group that campaigns against planned obsolescence filed a complaint against Apple in December 2017.

Wikipedia defines planned obsolescence (or built-in obsolescence) as: “in industrial design and economics is a policy of planning or designing a product with an artificially limited useful life, so it will become obsolete (that is, unfashionable or no longer functional) after a certain period of time.”

It is not only Apple. Many companies have developed methods to bog down old gadgets with an intention of driving sales. Planned obsolescence guarantees that consumers will demand replacements in the future, thus naturally supporting demand.

But for Apple’s case, it is a perceived as a drive to motivate multiple sales of the same object to the same consumer disguising as their latest and greatest gadget currently available on the market.

Some companies introduce a superior replacement or a product design meant to stop functioning effectively within a specific window, or by cultivating desirability of new versions over older ones.

Apple’s planned obsolescence has become a touchy subject for most of their product lovers who have noticed that every time a new iPhone (or iPad) is released, new software is “released” too, which makes their life miserable if they fail to “upgrade.”

The American multinational technology company was recently forced to admit that the tech to slow down older iPhones exits. However, they maintain it’s for the overall good of the consumer.

In December Apple responded publicly to complaints that it throttles performance on older iPhones, saying it was “managing performance in order to prolong the life of devices by avoiding unexpected shutdowns caused by older batteries not being able to handle peaks of processing power.”

It subsequently apologized for not being more transparent about how it handles performance on iPhones with older batteries — writing in a message to customers that “we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades”, and saying its goal is to make “iPhones last as long as possible”.

The Problem?

Because technology is constantly improving, and tech companies want to continue to offer the latest and greatest, sometimes the “older” equipment just doesn’t work as well anymore. That’s normal because things will always get old.

The problem with planned obsolescence comes when a company intentionally slows down older devices or takes other measures to force you to upgrade just after a few months of their latest release.

This is one of the reasons HOP remains unconvinced by Apple’s report, asserting that the timing of the slowdown is too close to the release of the latest iPhone range, and suggesting that there is another issue at play there.

According to Investopedia, the expected replacement cycle for mobile phones is two to three years. This is because components begin to wear down and new generations of software or operating systems grow less compatible with the aging hardware.

But the rate at which Apple is doing it is ‘wild and weird’. This could be the reason behind the continued investigations into the matter by France’s fly.

It should be observed that France has tough legislations against planned obsolescence. The case takes-up a maximum sentence of two years imprisonment and up to 5 percent of a company’s annual turnover upon being found guilty. With a company the size of Apple, that’s likely to be in billions.

This isn’t the first time that the French activist group is moving against a company. It previously filed a complaint against the printer manufacturers Epson, HP, Brother, and Canon, accusing them of underhanded tactics that forced consumers to buy more ink.

Recently, Apple announced a plan to accept direct payments from iPhone users for hardware that could be exchanged annually. But that was observed as clear intent of the company to shorten the replacement cycle; -an obvious attempt to stimulate demand at the consumer’s expense.

Planned obsolescence?

Planned obsolescence is just a means to how companies make money. That’s why the practice is here to stay.

College Textbook publishers switch chapters around, add or subtract diagrams, include CDs that can’t be used again once they’re registered, and so many other things but in most subjects, the information rarely changes.

The same goes for Light Bulbs, Ink Cartridges, Video games and Mp3 players. It is good for investors, but not for the consumers. You’ve got to be more careful with how you spend and beware of why.

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