Product Improvements Outpacing Even Planned Obsolescence?

from the perhaps dept

We've written a few times in the past about how your memory isn't fooling if you if you think today's gadgets and gizmos are built with lower quality than consumer electronics from years gone by. Part of the reason is simply planned obsolescence, where companies are innovating so much they expect you to simply upgrade when the last one you bought breaks. However, a new article suggests that even planned obsolescence is a thing of the past as the pace of innovation is such that people feel compelled to upgrade relatively quickly, not waiting for their gadgets to break. The main focus of the article, though, is how this presents quite the conundrum for consumer electronics buyers, who always know that what they buy today will be a lot cheaper tomorrow. Of course, 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. However, if you wait until the next generation is released, you should realize that you're only going to be tempted to buy the newer, fancier one anyway.
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  1. identicon
    misanthropic humanist, 2 Jan 2007 @ 7:26pm

    old vs new

    I'm with COD on my buying habits. As a computer programmer and electronics engineer I think I understand the landscape well enough to make the best choice - which is last years technology. It's burned in, proven, documented, costs less than 50% of the RRP, and there are cheap spare parts available if it does break.

    I think what Tyshaun says is interesting though. Hardware rental may return because of green economics. We simply cannot have 100 million used cellphones ending up in landfill sites or being incinerated each year. The company best equipt to manage and dispose of old technology is possibly the manufacturer. The manufacturer knows the chemical and physical composition of the device best to recycle it and with new taxes being proposed which encompass the total environmental cost of ownership it may turn out best for all parties to send your cellphone back to the manufacturer
    for recycling.

    Older technology is best from a security viewpoint too. Hardware manufacturers have proven themselves unworthy of trust. If you want to make sure your latest purchase of computers are not leaking information through backdoors or spying on your employees then 2 year old technology that has been exposed to public scrutiny is a sensible path. Either that or use open source software on an open spec hardware platform.

    Finally, Xenohacker is spot on about features and necessity. Many new devices are really the experimental edge of the market and contain features which are innovative but unproven. This practical market research with cutting edge products is necessary but many features turn out to be not what what people really want. Your purchases should be driven by your own needs and not pushed on you. Most people use less than half the features on technology they own.

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