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The iPod Classic and Obsolescence

Lindsay Zoladz, writing for The Ringer:

“Wow,” a man said to me recently on the subway, “I haven’t seen one of those things in years.” He gestured toward the scuffed-yet-still-sleek, aluminum-colored rectangle in my hand — a 160GB sixth generation iPod Classic. I blinked for a moment. We were not talking about, say, a quill pen, a monocle, or a bottle of Crystal Pepsi, but an electronic device I had purchased in 2010.

I knew what he meant, though. Technology moves at hyperspeed. Apple has created and helped universalize a particular kind of planned obsolescence — its products have to go out of fashion and/or break every few years, to ensure you’ll buy a newer one — and as a result, in the eyes of the general public, Last Year’s Model has never looked like more of an antique.

It strikes me as odd to state as fact that Apple’s products are designed to “break every few years” one paragraph after saying she still uses a six-year-old iPod.

Michael Heilemann, in a comment:

Eh… Isn’t it more that technology, and especially Apple, has a tendency to move so fast that obsolescence naturally occurs?

Exactly. The idea is even more absurd when you consider that Apple products hold their value on the resale market far longer than competing products. As I wrote three years ago:

If your car breaks down after just a few years, are you not more likely to replace it with a different brand? To posit that Apple customers are somehow different, that when they feel screwed by Apple their response is to go back for more, is “Cult of Mac” logic — the supposition that most Apple customers are irrational zealots or trend followers who just mindlessly buy anything with an Apple logo on it. The truth is the opposite: Apple’s business is making customers happy, and keeping them happy. They make products for discriminating people who have higher standards and less tolerance for design flaws or problems.

Thursday, 28 July 2016