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Disposable Tech

Posted by GNC at 7:09 AM on July 18, 2009

1005156_18613642“They sure don’t make things like they used to!”  There is a rich person somewhere collecting a nickle for every time that is said.  Is it true in the tech industry?  Automakers saturated the market and tried to keep making more.  The solution?  Make them break down quicker.  Whether that is true or not, it certainly would do well on a national poll.  The tech industry is even more dependent on short product life.  With the rate of innovation turning over every six months they need to sell their “better” products.

So are the products better or just feature improved?  Better in my mind means that they do more and last longer.  The physical life of tech products is shorter compared to years ago.  My mother had her washer and dryer for 25 years before they died.  I had mine three years.  My mother had her digital alarm clock/phone for 15 years.  My digital clock lasted 6.  Does this mean that the price of smarter, smaller, more high tech gadgets is that they do not last as long?

Are the products meant to be repaired?  It is not only the Maytag man that is out of business, the local tech repair shop is as well.  Gadgets are not meant to be repaired, they are meant to be replaced.  Sure you can send them off for repair, and then spend as much as a new one in the end.

Are manufacturers convincing us we need to replace our tech?  When the item does not break on us, the marketing breaks our will.  The company ceases to offer upgrades or make sure their system plays nice with it.  “Sorry can’t save the contacts of your phone and put them on your friends old one.  Why don’t you look at our newest. . . ”   Or perhaps the commercials convince us we need a new one.  2 months ago I heard people saying “I will never by the 13 inch white macbook.”  Now Apple changed the name to “Macbook PRO”  and did some minor tweaks and what do you know but they are a hot ticket.  My white macbook is working great, but it seems broken.

The tech industry is making great effort to become “green” with their products so that when the end of life comes the item can be safely recycled (tech recycle information here).  And so they should since they are making the lifespan of a product to be about two years!  And yet this is the new way of life.  The economy of the world is now dependent on disposable tech.

My wife and I are preparing for a major move across the ocean.  And wouldn’t you know it but both of our cell phones are showing the death rattle.  Hers has to restart often and is slowing to a crawl.  Mine seldom lets me know of text or voice messages.  Maybe I could just start carrying around my mothers old rotary phone somehow.  It has seemed to last.

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