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Planned product obsolescence

Planned product obsolescence or built-in obsolescence is an industrial design strategy. Of which; the intention of a proposed product with a limited lifespan. The most common form of product obsolescence is the fading out of product when new versions with major or brand new minor innovations, colours, etc. are replacing the current product line; however, planned product obsolescence is another story. Planned product obsolescence started already in the 1920s when manufacturers to shorten the lifespan of products to increase demand. The most popular product and the first representing planned obsolescence is the light bulb. In 1925 in Geneva, a few powerful businesses representing the most significant light bulb manufacturers launched a worldwide cartel with the mission to lower the average lifespan of the light bulb to 1000 hrs. However, already then a light bulb lasted for 2500 hrs., and a patent filed that should last 100.000 hrs.

Light Bulb and Nylon Stocking

In 1940, another vast product invention launched by a giant chemical factory DuPont, the synthetic Nylon fibre. Nylon stocking was a hit. Nevertheless, the joy was short-lasting. The stocking was so durable and strong that they actually could pull a car. The problem was that the fibre was too durable and the stockings hardly needed to be replaced. Therefore, the management in DuPont briefed the fabric engineers to develop a less strong fibre to increase demand and sale. Planned product obsolescence is still today a way of designing a product which harmed the environment unnecessary. Most low price printers have a built-in chip that when they reached a certain number of prints, they stop working. Apple launched the first I-pods, a strategy made it impossible to charge the battery. After many complaints, they found out that the battery used intentionally with a low capacity, shortened product lifespan; the case became known as Wesley vs Appl. Apple lost. Planned product obsolescence creates an enormous waste problem as most of the products are electronic, mobiles, computers, etc.


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