Author Topic: Planned obsolescence - podcast  (Read 1067 times)

Hula Hoop

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Planned obsolescence - podcast
« on: March 30, 2019, 01:06:55 AM »
I just finished listening to this podcast https://www.npr.org/2019/03/27/707188193/the-phoebus-cartel on planned obsolescence.  Great listening on my walk to work and very relevant to mustachianiasm.

GreenToTheCore

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Re: Planned obsolescence - podcast
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2019, 11:24:52 AM »
Thanks for the link, I added it to our road trip list.

Planned obsolescence makes me shudder and seems contrary to the purpose of pure engineering (make things work and be as reliable as possible).
Makes me think that this is what happens when an engineer doesn't have FU money and is pressured by a greedy person.
However, this poses a good stretch activity: When is planned obsolescence good for society? (apologies if this is covered in the podcast).

LPG

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Re: Planned obsolescence - podcast
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2019, 01:26:11 PM »
I just had an interesting thought about planned obsolescence.

In college (Mechanical Engineering) I took a course called "Design for Manufacturing." It was all about getting us engineers to think beyond the basic calculations, and consider the bigger picture as well. Things like making sure the products we design are possible to manufacture, keep in mind that the needs of the company may outweigh making the perfect design, etc. One day the professor started talking about this old TV he had in his garage. How he had bought it 30 years ago and it still worked so he kept it in his garage, and used it as background noise or to watch the news while he was working on projects out there. I loved this story because, to me, that represented a well made product that was clearly designed with quality, reliability, and the customer in general in mind. He then proceeded to say that it was a poorly designed product because it lasted too long. If it had been designed better it would have broken, he'd have had to go buy another TV, and the company would have made more money off of him. As you no doubt believe after reading my initial reaction, this horrified me. I'm supposed to make shoddy shit so a company can fleece it's customer's for more money, rather than focusing on doing high quality work and basing a business on that reputation? UUUUUUGGGGGGG.

Just now, having read your post, I'm second guessing that thought a little bit. I'm still avidly anti-"Screw your customer in an attempt to increase profit margins", but I am thinking about whether or not designing every product to be as reliable as possible is really the best choice. Does everybody want to keep a TV for 30 years? No. How many people would be happy to have a black and white CRT TV when there are newer, flashier options with better resolution and features like (Gasp!) color? Probably not many. That TV was designed to last much longer than the average person would want it. And I'm willing to bet that the higher quality design, materials, and manufacturing cost more. Then many people paid money for a TV that would last longer than they wanted. Wouldn't the optimal thing, for the customer, be to make a TV that lasted about as long as they would want and reduce the price to match the lower quality? Yes, of course, trying to predict precisely how long somebody is going to want a product and precisely how long a given design will last is a fool's errand, but I'm enjoying the philosophical questions here. Would that count as planned obsolescence? If it's planned obsolescence that is intended to be beneficial to the customer, is that a good thing instead of a bad thing?

fattest_foot

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Re: Planned obsolescence - podcast
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2019, 09:41:40 AM »
I've always been an opponent for planned obsolescence based on the rationale in that 2nd paragraph. As someone that went to business school it made little sense to me.

As a consumer, nothing infuriates me more than buying something that turns out to be a piece of crap. I will absolutely pay a premium for something that I know was made to last. In fact, it used to be a marketing gimmick. "Made in America" signified that it was a product that would last. That doesn't seem to be the case anymore.

Companies apparently decided that the majority of consumers think short term. They're probably correct. "I just need it for now" is the only thing that matters. 5 years from now never enters the equation. But there is absolutely a subset of the population that does value quality. And it bothers me that for the most part that type of consumer is ignored.

daverobev

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Re: Planned obsolescence - podcast
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2019, 02:26:49 PM »
I'm coming round on this.

A 30 year old tv is almost certainly an energy hog. No harm in replacing it.

The most important thing is recyclability. Making things that can be somewhat easily separated back into pure components (ie, look at cars - lots of copper wiring and whatnot that is uneconomical to separate back out from the steel... if I remember rightly on that).

Like... fucking tetrapaks. They should not exist. There is just no reason for them. Glass bottles, plastic bottles, whatever - can be recycled.

WhiteTrashCash

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Re: Planned obsolescence - podcast
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2019, 09:46:30 PM »
Luckily, you can thwart planned obsolescence with an iFixit guide and a few tools you have laying around at home. I've kept my iPod going for nearly 13 years now and my iPad is going on 7 years. Next, I'm going to replace the battery and digitizer in my 4 year old Samsung Galaxy S6, so I can keep using it with my VR headset. All the information you need to keep your tech going far beyond its expected service life is available for free online.