Planned obsolescence in the tech industry

Every day, your phones and laptops seem to slow down a bit more. It's not just wear and tear, it's a deliberate strategy.

Apr 1, 2024

half open laptop
half open laptop

Have you ever wondered why the phone or laptop you bought two years ago seems to run applications more slowly than it used to, or why its physical structure seems to be worn down even though you took good care of it? This is all caused by a business strategy known as planned obsolescence. This kind of business model is very common in the tech industry nowadays. It refers to manufacturers intentionally making a product weak to prompt consumers to make frequent purchases, thereby benefiting the company's growth.

Unveiling the Tactics: Examples of Planned Obsolescence in Action

Digging deeper, we can see that this trend has caused consumers nothing but trouble. A popular example is when users noticed that the tech giant Apple was intentionally slowing down their iPhones after a certain software update. Even though this caused a major outcry and Apple was forced to reverse the effects of the update, one can imagine how often this is happening without our knowledge. Another example is when manufacturers release new gadgets each year with better designs, making the current devices look and feel outdated. This creates the impression that the new product is somehow superior to ours. These are all just clever marketing strategies to increase their profit margin.

Beyond Consumer Frustration: Environmental Impact of Planned Obsolescence

Moreover, planned obsolescence not only affects consumers financially but also has significant environmental consequences. The frequent turnover of electronic devices contributes to e-waste, which poses serious risks to the environment and human health. Electronic waste contains toxic materials such as lead, mercury, and cadmium, which can leach into the soil and water, contaminating ecosystems and endangering wildlife.

Fighting Back: Towards Sustainable Consumption Practices

In response to these concerns, some consumer advocacy groups and governments are pushing for regulations to combat planned obsolescence. France, for example, has implemented laws requiring manufacturers to disclose information about a product's expected lifespan and repairability. Additionally, there is a growing trend towards repairing and refurbishing electronics rather than discarding them, with many independent repair shops offering services to extend the lifespan of devices. Ultimately, raising awareness about planned obsolescence and advocating for sustainable consumption practices is crucial in promoting a more environmentally friendly and consumer-friendly tech industry.