I want to share a personal story of frustration first followed by acceptance of planned obsolescence when I gained wisdom on what it is.
I’ve been spending this last weekend unexpectedly trying to fix my work computer unsuccessfully. I’m one of those guys who enjoys building their own PC and it used to be better and much more affordable than purchasing a pre-made one in the past.
Funny thing is that it all started changing my PC case, no other component was upgraded or changed. I disassembled my old PC, put the parts in the new case, plugged everything up and I got memory errors. Suddenly it doesn’t work anymore and I’ve been spending the whole weekend finding where the error is.
I cleaned all the RAM and CPU slots since is where errors tend to happen and got it working, just only detecting half the memory than before. The point of this story is when I started to search the forums for people with the same problem. Seemed there was an awful lot of them with exactly the same error and what seemed an odd coincidence ended being another of many planned obsolescence examples.
One engineer wrote:
Motherboard manufacturers tend to fabricate their boards to be easily bent after a carefully calculated time period. Under the pressure of CPU coolers they bend a variable time after warranty expires so the RAM memory and/or CPU don’t make contact well with their slots. This produces a number of random errors that encourages customers to buy new components sooner.
So when somebody changes components or just the PC case, the stress the motherboard suffers when you change it to the new case increases its bending provoking the memory detection and other random problems I’m having.
This is called “Planned Obsolescence” the careful planning of when a product will break to maximize profits and year after year companies increase and intensify this practice. If you want to learn more about planned obsolescence examples and history there a link to a documentary at the end of this article.
Not only PC manufacturers but every brand, every corporation. I want to mention that I use two Operating Systems OS in my PC; MS Windows and Linux. Well, even though I got my PC to work, just only with half its former memory detected, Windows didn’t want to boot up or explain why it couldn’t start.
Linux, on the other hand, booted up just fine and without errors. Linux is a non-profit OS, they don’t charge money to private consumers, Microsoft bases its business on charging money to customers using Windows.
And not only this, Microsoft stops providing support for old hardware to encourage people to buy new PCs. I’ve seen PCs with Windows 7 and even more with the new Windows 10 that froze randomly or gave blue screen errors where the PC hangs.
The culprit usually is an “old” videocard or component (in my case from 2005) which Windows decided it won’t provide support anymore. Installed Linux on the faulty PC and everything was fixed, no more freezes and hangs. I’ve seen this happen with any component older than 10 years. Always apparently random and strange errors. This is one of the most blatant planned obsolescence examples.
People who aren’t tech savvy are easy prey for these greedy companies. Think about every home appliance we have. We need to be almost experts to know why our products break. Nowadays we haven’t time to learn about everything so we end up purchasing new products and doing the bidding of manufacturers.
I see it as a Neo Slavery, some products and appliances may be an expendable luxury but what about those items who are essential for our work or wellbeing? This happens too in the medical industry and are one of the cruelest planned obsolescence examples. Most medication only ease symptoms but do not heal the cause of the illness they treat, encouraging a permanent consumption of drugs. Also, most of them lose effectiveness the more patients take them having to increase the dose or search an alternative. Tell me if it is not another more subtle form of obsolescence. Curing is not profitable.
These experiences are what encourages me to find honest manufacturers who make products with as little planned obsolescence as possible. One truth about China is that their industry is going through the phases the West went many decades ago. It is hard but still possible to find manufacturers who don’t make their products with planned obsolescence in them. Although if I’m honest I don’t know how much more it will last before you can only find manufacturers which are perfect planned obsolescence examples. One thing I’m sure, I’ll always try to find the few remaining examples of honest craftsmanship and manufacturing wherever they may be.
When we experience how the world works we have two options; to imitate and join this greedy trend, doing to others what has been done to us, or change what we don’t like about the world. It’s a harder path but more rewarding in the long run. You’re not just selling a product, you’re trying to improve the life of someone else, even if only a little bit. Establishing a relationship like that, knowing someone is happy and better because of the work you’ve done to find the best possible product and/or give your best help and advice is much more rewarding than just a quick monetary gain.
P. S. Maybe is because I’m getting older but seems like the trend of planned obsolescence examples is getting worse and worse to an unbearable point. There’s a saying: “Greed is the only vice that can’t be satiated.” and I don’t want to think about where this can lead us to. I watched a great documentary about planned obsolescence many years ago that I’d like to share with you.