The theory of planned obsolescence was considered marginal and was at the level of conspiracy theory. But today, the predictions that analysts and science fiction writers gave 30 years ago have become a reality. Every year the situation is getting worse, and planned obsolescence is coming to an increasing number of areas. But why is it necessary? It’s a simple — and artificial increase in demand. If the thing is reliable, durable, and with a well-thought-out design for a year, who will buy new ones?
Here are a few things that are really affected by planned obsolescence. This is only a small part of the huge market.
7 things that are affected by planned obsolescence
1. Light bulbs
This is perhaps one of the most striking examples of the existence of planned obsolescence. In 1924, several Western light bulb manufacturers, such as Osram, Philips, General Electric, and others, agreed to reduce the duration of use of their products by creating the Phoebus cartel. At the same time, ceasing to compete in the market, these producers, under the conditions of the cartel, reached an agreement at more or less similar prices.
Even though even then, there were light bulbs capable of working more than 2.5 thousand hours, the cartel reduced their service life to 1 thousand hours to encourage buyers to consume more. Over time, the same practice has spread to LED lamps, where chips with a certain service life are deliberately placed.
Many owners of new cars have noticed that they are less reliable than the old ones. And it’s not that there are a lot more electronic devices in new cars, but that, as we know, the more complex the design, the higher the probability of failure. The bottom line is that manufacturers consciously make small changes that affect the durability, but in such a way that the car seems reliable. For example, Toyota was once synonymous with an engine capable of traveling a million kilometers without capital. Now, one can only dream of such figures.
Some manufacturers are even accused of the fact that the engines installed in their cars are planned to become obsolete after 200 thousand kilometers. Moreover, the problem is that, as in the case of old cars, it is very difficult to make repairs not only with your own hands but even in an auto repair shop. All because many components are made integral, and if you want to repair some, one inexpensive part, you will have to change almost half of the engine. And so it is with all nodes.
3. Household appliances
Previously, you could buy a microwave and use it for decades. It would seem that what could be new in this device, except for a more rounded or flat door opening handle? Therefore, manufacturers put planned obsolescence in the microwave beforehand, or rather, make the magnetron or other parts less reliable just enough so that their work covers the warranty period.
Without hesitation, manufacturers of household appliances write that their equipment can withstand a certain number of cycles, which has not been done before. Stainless steel tanks in washing machines are changed to plastic, gears in blenders are again made of plastic, not iron, and so on. It seems that you have the same device in your hands that you bought 20 years ago, but it will serve much less.
Despite the fact that progress has significantly advanced, there are no new revolutionary inventions in the field of energy storage. Moreover, it may seem as if the batteries are only getting worse. Well, you don’t think so.
For example, not so long ago, Apple was fined in Europe and was forced to make a public apology for the fact that the company supplied the iPhone with batteries with planned obsolescence and a replacement cost. After numerous complaints, the replacement cost was reduced. And this is just one example of when a manufacturer, despite reputational losses, went to such a trick for profit.
One of the most painful topics in offices is the work of printers. Previously, until about the end of the 2000s, they were supplied with refillable cartridges or those that could not be refilled officially, but there were no restrictions from a technical point of view. Now all printers are equipped with non-refillable cartridges. Moreover, chips are placed on them, which check for the unoriginality of the cartridge. These same chips are a device that ensures planned obsolescence.
The same applies to paper feed rollers and other moving parts. They are made in such a way as to withstand a strictly defined number of sheets of paper. When some of this breaks down, it’s easier to buy a new printer because today, the situation has already become the norm when a cartridge costs a third and sometimes half the cost of the device.
Nylon stockings or tights were created in the 1940s, replacing less reliable natural materials. Such stockings immediately became the most coveted purchase from girls in the West because it’s worth taking one pair, and that’s it; you can wear them for years without worrying that they will tear during the pull-up if they suddenly slip slightly.
As soon as the manufacturers of nylon stockings realized that they were producing almost eternal products, they immediately created an analog of the cartel and changed the chemical formula so as to reduce the strength of the material. What is the result? Modern tights tear so easily as if they are made of paper, and any puff cuts them in half. All for girls to buy tights as often as possible, and those where a puff appeared were sent to the trash, where an unnecessary thing will decompose for hundreds of years.
It would seem that how can something become obsolete in the digital world? But it really is. It is not profitable for corporations that use the usual software because they need to sell something to us. Therefore, Windows XP is declared morally and physically obsolete, then Windows 7, and now 10, because something insignificant was added in the next version.
The same applies to each subsequent version of iOS and Android, where software manufacturers have repeatedly been caught by the hand to slow down old devices at the software level and force consumers to buy new ones.