Planned Obsolescence

Buy and throw away?

If you watched The Story of Stuff, which I introduced to this site several weeks back, it introduces several ideas that are perhaps unfamiliar to most laymen or locals for the matter. One such idea is planned obsolescence. Planned obsolescence can be defined as “the process of a product becoming obsolete and/or non-functional after a certain period or amount of use in a way that is planned or designed by the manufacturer”. In other words, when product engineers design your product, they purposely design it such that it will physically or psychologically become obsolete (i.e. useless) after a while.

This sounds like a very disturbing idea, but it makes sense to the producer of the good for the consumer to keep purchasing “updated and improved” goods from them as their old ones break down. Planned obsolescence may even be described as an art; it would take much ingenuity, in fact, to design a product such that it does not break down too obviously as a result of inferior quality but consumers still want to buy this product and its future “upgrades”.

If you wonder how planned obsolescence affects us, this article from The Daily Green is useful in highlighting some occurrences of planned obsolescence in products we use in our daily lives. So have you unintentionally succumbed to this phenomena?

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