Devices: Electronic Components

Planned Obsolescence: Phenomenon Description

Planned Obsolescence: phenomenon description
Planned Obsolescence: Phenomenon Description

Planned obsolescence (or also referred to as built-in obsolescence) is a term used in economics that describes a strategy of developing devices that has limited useful (life)time. It means it will become “obsolete” (not functional or not trendy) after a period of time. For obvious reasons, companies avoid any information about this.

But this phenomenon is not so unknown. As early as 1932, an American businessman, Bernard London, published a brochure entitled “Ending the Depression Through Planned Obsolescence”. Planned Obsolescence is an industrial strategy, where the manufacturer deliberately “builds” a certain defect into a technical product. The purpose of such manipulation is to let the product-device to be broken after a certain period of time. As a result, the customer is forced to buy a new device, which supports the trade in industry. Unfortunately, it is hard to mention a built-in defect in new devices. The algorithms are so brilliantly verified that you cannot draw a line between this phenomenon and ordinary wear and tear.

The first bulbs that went on sale had a service life of about 1500 hours. 30 years later, only light bulbs that had a lifespan of up to 2500 hours were in sale. Soon, after everyone realized that, all lamp-manufactures have started selling lamps that have a service life of about 1000 hours or less.

Planned Obsolescence: 113 years old Lamp

The Centennial Light is the world’s longest-lasting light bulb, burning since 1901

The Examples:

Theoretically, almost any faulty and broken device can be repaired and it’s unnecessary to buy an expensive new product immediately. But, because of the built-in obsolescence, devices don’t just “break down”. It is specially designed so the error is basically unable to be repaired…

Planned Obsolescence: Homepod Teardown

In a Homepod you will have to destroy the covering in order to gain access inside

  • The housing body of many devices is now held on glue, but not screws. That means not only “to open”, but also “to close” the device after is very difficult task.
  • The built-in batteries in smartphones, can hardly be serviced at home. Consequently, when the battery is irreversibly broken down, you need an expensive repair. It either begins to degrade or lose most of its capacity after 500-800 recharge cycles. As a result, you either have to change the gadget or always take a charger with you.
  • Chips limiting lifetime. For example, printers and cartridges have this trick where manufacturers used to install chips that accounts for the consumption of ink. In doing this, the device’s service time can be easily manipulated. The manufacturer initially built-in a limited period of time, after which the device informs that it can no longer function. In reality, the printer can still work fine. Also, accounting microchips that control and manage print operations, may block the printer when the number of printed pages specified by the manufacturer is reached. Enthusiasts released special utilities for surpassing this.
  • The incompatibility of new connectors with older devices forces customers to purchase unnecessary parts and equipment, even if the old ones are fully functional. The first-generation connector of the Intel Core processors has 1156 contacts (LGA 1156), but the second-generations have 1155 (LGA 1155). As a result, owners of the system blocks old motherboards, and therefore forcing them to buy a new motherboard in order to upgrade the processor. Even though the physical connectors for the processor installation are almost the same.
  • Cheap power-carrying components in electronic devices often cause a breakdown. An electrolytic capacitor, intentionally installed near the “hot components”, may eventually lose its properties and “swell” under the influence of high temperatures. In this case, you have to replace it yourself or contact a service center.
  • The monolith and slate design of smartphones make even the simplest repairs difficult. It is enough to glue or weld two parts of the body to make disassembly impossible if you need to replace a cracked touchscreen or LCD display.
  • Gentle algorithms for the operation of microcircuits that controls the charge of the battery can use operation algorithms, causing the battery to be substantially undercharged near the end of its life cycle..

Planned Obsolescence: iPad Screen Replacement

Apple’s iPad battery replacement is very difficult even for professionals because an expensive front panel (display and touchscreen together) should be removed first. Without any issues and damage of course…

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