The IT Pro Podcast: Is planned obsolescence real?
When is a piece of tech officially past its sell-by date?
The spectre of so-called ‘planned obsolescence’ has been hovering around the tech industry for years, with quasi-conspiracy theories claiming that manufacturers intentionally cripple their own products after a certain period in order to coax customers into purchasing an upgrade.
However, while the comparatively short lifespan of most tech products remains a bone of contention among users, this may be less sinister plot and more a natural result of the industry’s relentless pursuit of better specs and slimmer dimensions. This week, we’re looking at the factors affecting the lifespan of hardware, as well as what you can do to make your devices last that bit longer.
“I used to work in a factory where we repaired certain models of phone. The process to get the LCD off is mad; you have to heat it up to a certain temperature, then pry it open as carefully as possible. This is usually where people get like cracks and things in their phones. So it cannot be done personally at home, replacing a screen.”
“If you know you've got a sizable chunk of your customer base that is using an older device, that should still be supported from a software perspective. Everyone's gonna have a different opinion, there will be people in one corner saying if you've made a device, you should be able to support that forever; the 'buy well, buy once' people. But realistically, no one's using an iPhone 1… in the same way that no one is still using a laptop from 2002.”
“For laptops in particular, one of the best ways to extend its lifespan beyond when it might give up the ghost is to actually replace the default OS with something a little bit more lightweight. So Linux is a really good example of this. ChromeOS has recently come out with a version that can be installed on any hardware. And both of those are great options for giving older devices that may not have the most powerful hardware a new lease of life, because cutting edge Windows and macOS builds are quite resource intensive in lots of ways.”
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