Planned obsolescence and its impact


Built-in obsolescence or planned obsolescence is a policing of designing or planning a product with a limited useful life. Making it obsolete, unfashionable and no longer functional. This process has been one of the key ideas for a supplier and business. They make huge profits off us because it pressures the consumer to buy the latest model. This leads the consumer to buy off the same manufacturer or go elsewhere who could also use planned obsolescence. Planned obsolescence is a terrible waste of resources, power, effort and takes away the potential we could have used elsewhere.

“In an age of multiple and massive innovations, obsolescence becomes the major obsession” – Marshall McLuhan

Planned obsolescence was originated in the United States in 1924. General Motors head Akfred P. Sloan Jr. suggested an annual model-year design that convinced car owners that they need a new car replacement every year. Critics called his strategy planned obsolescence. Many other businesses could not afford a yearly re-styling and went out of business. But still, there were reports of faulty parts to their vehicles.

There are many types of planned obsolescence. Many manufacturers use a combination of them. Contrived durability is a strategy to shorten the product’s life. Prevention of repairs, to ensure that you will eventually need to buy a new one. They create desirability in their new products, so there is always going to be style obsolescence in your product in due time. The technology in your product is changed in the model, which creates programmed obsolescence.

Planned obsolescence does significant harm to society. In a form of negative externalities, it creates more waste, population, uses more natural resources, energy, effort and results in more consumer spending. Due to the laws of supply and demand, the output of our resources and processes to make our products tend to put pressure on what we have at the moment.

Facts about planned obsolescence and anything relating to it:

  • A real lightbulb cartel lowered the average lifespan of a bulb to 1,000 hours in order to boost sales in the 1920s.
  • The broken display glass is not covered by any warranty.
  • In the last 30 years, we have used one-third of the Earth’s natural resources.
  • 51 of the largest 100 organizations in the world are corporations, not governments.
  • 20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are disposed of worldwide every year.
  • Only 12.5 percent of e-waste is currently recycled.
  • In Australia, 75% of the 3 million computers we purchase a year, end up in a landfill.
  • And so much more examples.

“Growth is our only remedy against obsolescence.” ― Joseph Rain

In conclusion, if completion and profits did not matter in the world, social systems could be achievable in their place, to make it available to repair and update your product for free. We do not need over twenty flavours of ice cream or smart devices. A civilized society should have a limit on the number of different types of products. Those are reliable and last for a lifetime. The consumer will buy your product if you can say it lasts for a very long time or forever. And that results in nothing but positive effects. I do not want to get another computer in another three years.


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