Friday, November 30, 2012

"Planned obsolescence"

JK Galbraith introduced the idea of "planned obsolescence" many years ago.  Competition and an eye to profits, one would think, challenge the concept.  Yet a check of Google Scholar reveals quite a few serious academic papers that model planned obsolescence.  Here is one that relies on "oligopoly" (another idea I have trouble with).

As one who drives a 1998 model car and has no thought of giving up on it, I enjoy reports like this one.  I am not the only one who is happy to keep driving an oldie.  Cars last longer than ever.  And they are cheaper than ever (in terms of hous worked to acquire one).

It's pretty clear that the likes of Apple get many fans to ditch their iPhone in favor of the newer and better one.  The newer is seen as better by enough customers to fuel the smart-phone arms race.  So is failure engineered into products?  No, success is engineered into ever better ones.  No "planned obsolescence."