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Should Planned Obsolescence Be Illegal? Possible Solutions?
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M / USA
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Posted 9/1/14 , edited 9/11/14
At some point in our time, we will drop our phone, tablet, or laptop and the worse case scenario comes true. The screen is shattered or something internal broke. Frustrated, we fork out $100+ for repairs and maybe a case next time but that doesn't guarantee our technology's safety. So what should we do to prevent this?

Should our politicians pass bills prohibiting planned obsolescence in our products? Is there another possible solution? Because not only are the corporations getting richer off our expense, but the environment is suffering due to increasing electronic waste as well as child laborers that mine the resources that go into our electronics.

What do you all think?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_obsolescence
http://www.thespectrum.com/story/life/features/mesquite/2014/09/01/e-waste-becoming-pressing-problem/14932231/

(Note: I did not see a similar thread. If there is one, let me know. Thanks.)
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25 / M
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Posted 9/1/14
Just wait till they day where tech can not be fix and can only be remade completely or bought again.
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28 / F / Seattle
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Posted 9/1/14
How would you prove it?

I just bought these $3 earbuds. I don't expect them to last long. But if they stop working by the end of the month, is that because they were made cheaply, or due to "planned obsolescence"?
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50 / Niggerous,VA
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Posted 9/1/14
Sure why not, have another political figure pass judgement to ensue this circus we call America keeps hypocrisy control at a minimum.
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18 / M
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Posted 9/1/14 , edited 9/11/14
I would say no. If the product you bought breaks easily, we need to voice our complaints and stop buying it. It would be too hard to prove planned obsolescence. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if companies made their phones, expecting them to have to be repaired/replaced often, but it would be extremely difficult to make an argument and have evidence to show that these companies do such things.

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Posted 9/1/14 , edited 9/11/14
Planned obsolescence doesn't mean that something accidentally breaks easier, it means that something is designed to no longer be useful after a certain time frame. like how an old cellphone charger no longer works on newer phones or how certain connector specs change every few years so you have to update devices. It can also mean something wears out quicker but I'd say that's more in the realm of cost cutting rather than planned obsolescence.
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Posted 9/1/14 , edited 9/1/14
If you care about the environment buy something expensive that last forever, and leave us the poor alone.
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M / USA
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Posted 9/1/14 , edited 9/11/14

mlchanges wrote:

Planned obsolescence doesn't mean that something accidentally breaks easier, it means that something is designed to no longer be useful after a certain time frame. like how an old cellphone charger no longer works on newer phones or how certain connector specs change every few years so you have to update devices. It can also mean something wears out quicker but I'd say that's more in the realm of cost cutting rather than planned obsolescence.


"A common method of deliberately limiting a product's useful life is to use inferior materials in critical areas, or deliberately suboptimal component layouts which cause excessive wear."

Inferior materials would result in a weaker, more accident prone object, wouldn't you agree? From what it says, there are different types of planned obsolescence and what you stated was one of them.
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M / USA
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Posted 9/1/14 , edited 9/1/14

TheCoolAlchemist wrote:

How would you prove it?

I just bought these $3 earbuds. I don't expect them to last long. But if they stop working by the end of the month, is that because they were made cheaply, or due to "planned obsolescence"?


Apparently Europe proved it and there is a ban on it (or still trying to ban it lol).
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こ ~ じ ~ か
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Posted 9/1/14
Dropping your phone/laptop/tablet and breaking it is not planned obsolescence. It's clumsiness. It's the nature of portable electronics. Every device has to make a trade off between making the device larger, heavier, and/or uglier, and making the device affordable, smaller, lighter, and/or more attractive.

Given the price of Toughbooks and ruggedized phones and tablets, it's no wonder the majority are lighter, smaller, and more fragile. It's a deliberate design decision, yes, but calling it planned obsolescence as if it were a decision made maliciously is at best naive.

I'm not saying it doesn't occur. The iphone's non-replaceable battery is a perfect example. You'll never see someone with a 5 year old iPhone, much less one as old as the Sidekick 3 (which itself could technically be considered to suffer from planned obsolescence) I keep as an emergency backup phone. However, iphone users happily accept this limitation since it makes the phone that much lighter and sleeker, and the majority of them will replace the phone before the battery becomes useless anyway.

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29 / M
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Posted 9/1/14
Ironically it's pretty much consumer pressure that has led to the shorter lifespans of consumer goods. The consumer society of today will look at which product is cheaper, not which one lasts longer (as that is something that can't really be seen in the first place). Using cheaper materials shortens lifespan, but boosts sales and earnings - so in a free market it becomes an evolutionary necessity.

Planned obsolescence, while potentially annoying (my phone is a few years old - it still works fine, but there's next to no app on the market now that still works with Android 2.1), is also in some cases something a company has to do because of consumer demands. Game consoles become obsolete with the next gen, when most new games are made for the newer versions - but those new games couldn't have been made for the old hardware in the first place.
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44 / M
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Posted 9/1/14
Some forms of planned obsolescence are not All bad ,more energy efficient electronics are a good example
they waste less electric and can last longer .
Other forms of obsolescence are planned such as fragile material being used in expensive objects
or how else do you explain a cell phone screen being as fragile as a sheet of ice ?
I understand people want light weight phones ,
but cheap mass produced tempered glass has been available for more then 50 years
they make test tubes from it, with side walls as thick as a razor blade
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26 / M / Houma
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Posted 9/1/14

Whereas wrote:

Ironically it's pretty much consumer pressure that has led to the shorter lifespans of consumer goods. The consumer society of today will look at which product is cheaper, not which one lasts longer (as that is something that can't really be seen in the first place). Using cheaper materials shortens lifespan, but boosts sales and earnings - so in a free market it becomes an evolutionary necessity.

Planned obsolescence, while potentially annoying (my phone is a few years old - it still works fine, but there's next to no app on the market now that still works with Android 2.1), is also in some cases something a company has to do because of consumer demands. Game consoles become obsolete with the next gen, when most new games are made for the newer versions - but those new games couldn't have been made for the old hardware in the first place.


I check reviews for just about everything I buy now. I'm willing to put out the extra money for durability and efficiency. I wish everyone would do the same. Just in general it seems companies don't give a shit about reputation anymore, they just hire "reputation management" companies to harass people who left prominent bad reviews with a team of lawyers. Many of them also plant positive reviews in places so you have be wary of that as well...
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M / USA
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Posted 9/1/14 , edited 9/11/14

evilotakuneko wrote:

Dropping your phone/laptop/tablet and breaking it is not planned obsolescence. It's clumsiness. It's the nature of portable electronics. Every device has to make a trade off between making the device larger, heavier, and/or uglier, and making the device affordable, smaller, lighter, and/or more attractive.

Given the price of Toughbooks and ruggedized phones and tablets, it's no wonder the majority are lighter, smaller, and more fragile. It's a deliberate design decision, yes, but calling it planned obsolescence as if it were a decision made maliciously is at best naive.

I'm not saying it doesn't occur. The iphone's non-replaceable battery is a perfect example. You'll never see someone with a 5 year old iPhone, much less one as old as the Sidekick 3 (which itself could technically be considered to suffer from planned obsolescence) I keep as an emergency backup phone. However, iphone users happily accept this limitation since it makes the phone that much lighter and sleeker, and the majority of them will replace the phone before the battery becomes useless anyway.



I've had my first phone for 5 years now. I've dropped it, washed it, burned it, thrown it, buried it and it sill works perfectly. The exterior is a little rough around the edges but it works perfectly. In my family, my sister dropped her smartphone from 3 feet onto carpet and the screen shattered. Friends, family, associates - everyone around me is going through smartphones and iphones like crazy because they keep breaking. You talk about trade-offs and making the phone more attractive and lighter and what not, so what's the difference between my phone and theirs? My phone is light, attractive, smaller, but it's virtually indestructible. How come theirs is much more fragile? Is it because the company made a trade-off and used cheaper, inferior metals to make her phone and maximize profit, knowing that if her phone breaks, repairs will cost an arm and a leg? If my phone is durable, why aren't they using the same glass and plastic?

From what I've been reading, numerous articles are pointing to "planned obsolescence" and to rapid growing amounts of E-waste. I took a college environmental science course last year and we discussed E-waste and the financial gain of planned obsolescence. So from what I've been taught and researched, it's being used for profit at the expense of the consumers and the environment. I don't know how much validity there is in that since my textbooks are written in someone's perspective which is another reason I've created this thread.
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22 / M / Los Angeles
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Posted 9/1/14 , edited 9/11/14
I do not dismiss planned obsolescence as it is a case for consumer protection, but companies and corporations are not obligated to create a product that will satisfy and accommodate the subjective expectations of said product by its consumers with each successive iteration. It would be easier for a corporation to disprove accusations of planned obsolescence, being that a corporation exist only to make a profit, in addition to available legal resources. The use of cheap material is not inherently the use of low quality material, but it is in adherence to the principle of increasing profit margins by reduction of production cost, and if a product ceases to function and it stimulates voluntary purchases for a replacement, then that is postulation of planned obsolescence without evidence. Replacement and new purchases are driven by trends and opinion, not underhanded and negligent (or perhaps indeed, but would require substantiated and irrefutable evidence) manufacturing practices.

As much as I refrain from anecdotal evidence. I do want to say however that Apple is a great company in its industry and that it has a loyal and blind consumer base (that I am not part of) that will only increase the price of market shares, however their products are [email protected] I bought a 6th gen iPod Nano and the buttons are held together with double sided tape.
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