Samsung’s Unplanned Obsolescence

Samsung has killed its battery-exploding Galaxy Note 7 phone no more than two months after launching it in hopes of beating Apple’s new iPhone to stores. It’s predicted to lose $9.5 billion in sales, and $5.1 billion in profits through 2017.

It goes to show the kind of money involved in the planned obsolescence racket.

Vance Packard coined the term in his 1960 book “The Wastemakers,” in which he described the economic theory of purposefully limiting the productive lifetime of products, either through design or functional durability. He gave credit to GM for coming up with cosmetic additions for new model year cars that made last year’s models appear old and outdated (the fashion industry had relied on these cycles of “cosmetic” taste).

Planned obsolescence also allows manufacturers to create products that didn’t last as long, in expectation that customers would want to replace them for newer ones. This theory is apparent in iPhone design, for instance, as they seem to have been made to make it nearly impossible to fix them. Planned obsolescence is a component of a throwaway culture that discards things because they no longer work, let alone don’t look right.

It’s a potent business strategy because it focuses development on pre-existing customers and distribution channels, as it’s easier to invent upgrades and enhancements for known uses vs. new functions and benefits for unknown buyers. It also keeps factories humming along, since last year’s cool product will soon be discarded in lieu of this year’s version.

War is the ultimately most efficient application of planned obsolescence, since its bombs and bullets are designed to be used only once.

This is the racket that drove Samsung to rush its defective phone into production…

Read the entire essay at Linkedin