Planned Obsolescence

Analytics play an important role in any Business Enterprise. It helps the Businesses to thrive and take decisions based on what the system predicts. Amidst all these analytics comes Planned Obsolescence. So what is it? Is it a new plan? No its not a plan. Planned Obsolescence is a process whereby the Business Enterprise charts down all the features that they will release in their product or service year after year.

Let’s take Apple as our primary example. Apple loves to launch new products in a flamboyant manner and they do that with the help of Keynotes which they hold regularly throughout the year. At each of these Keynotes, they ensure that their product should have some substance. By substance, I mean features. Features which are enough to show off at the Keynote. Apple MacBook (2015) is the most recent example of this category. With the MacBook (2015), Apple concentrated more on Design rather than Performance. They boasted of features like slimness, colors (space grey, gold, etc), force touch, fanless cpu, USB 3.1 type C connector and miniature size motherboard. What they didn’t boast about is the performance aspect as they used Intel Core M CPU which is not all that powerful.

Right after the product was unveiled there were mixed reactions. Some were like The design is just WOW and some were like This is not like Apple and Apple never releases such products. Apple focusses on All Round performance….Blah Blah Blah. Well I am here to prove that this is totally like Apple through the concept of Planned Obsolescence.

Let’s take example of the iPhone. iPhone was launched in 2007. It was a all in one device which provided Internet, Mail, SMS, Phone, Music and on top of all this capacitive touch. What about iPhone 3G. It is nothing but iPhone 2G packed with 3G chip and GPS chip. This is Planned Obsolescence. What about iPhone 3G S? It is a speed boost in performance and has a better camera with Auto-Focus (what…). If Apple wanted they could have added Auto-Focus in previous versions of iPhone but no. This is Planned Obsolescence. Now after such silly upgrades, its time for major upgrade with iPhone 4. I don’t want to go deep into the next iterations but I think iPhone 4S, 5, 5S explains the point too.

Let’s talk about iPad. iPad was launched right after iPhone 4. It was launched with a screen resolution of 1024×768. Why not Retina, when Apple had already unveiled Retina Display in iPhone 4? And guess what, no camera in iPad. Probably they might be like who will click a photograph with 10 inch device… No, this is Planned Obsolescence. iPad 2 was nothing but a performance boost of 2x and sported a camera. Wow right… No it was a camera with I think 0.3MP and 0.7MP (front and rear) image sensors. Why is Apple even adding these silly cameras? And why is the screen resolution 1024×768 still… This is Planned Obsolescence. iPad 3 was another device with speed boost but this time with Retina display upgrade and 5MP rear camera. Why not 8MP when Apple sells its phones with 8MP rear camera? This is Planned Obsolescence.

Coming to the new MacBook (2015), its got a new USB 3.1 Type C connector. It is definitely futuristic with data transfer, charging and screen mirroring capabilities but why only one port. Thats because Apple wants you to buy their accessories, adapters which are costly and earn money. This is Planned Obsolescence.

So is Apple doing this now or has it been doing it since its inception? Apple has been doing this since its inception. Search for Apple Lisa computer and you might get what I am saying. But is this concept only restricted to Apple? No it exists in every single Business Enterprise. It’s just that the class with which Apple executes it, is just amazing and Apple’s brand value does help in execution of this concept.

Planned Obsolescence has helped companies earn huge profits. But there have been cases where it did fail. For example, take the Samsung Galaxy series. Galaxy S4 was certainly an important upgrade but Galaxy S5 was simply a processor upgrade. Apple does similar stuff but executes it neatly. Somehow, Samsung has not been able to boast about its product and hence S5 turned out to be a big flop.

This concept does not make me hate Apple. It is something which exists in Business.