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Planned product obsolescence

Planned product obsolescence or built-in obsolescence is an industrial design strategy whereof, the intention is a planned 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 well-known product and the first representing planned obsolescence is the light bulb. In 1925 in Geneva, a few very powerful businesses representing the largest light bulb manufacturers men 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 was filed that should last 100.000 hrs.

In 1940, another big product invention was launched by the huge chemical factory DuPont, a synthetic fabric called Nylon. Nylon stocking was soon loved by girls, 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, when launched the first I-pods did the same as it was impossible to change the battery and after many complaints, they found out that the battery placed inside was made so the product had a shorter lifespan; the case became known as Wesley vs. Apple which Apple actually lost. Planned product obsolescence creates an enormous waste problem as most of the products are electronic, mobiles, computers, etc.




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