Is Apple busting your iPhone?

Is Apple busting your iPhone?

Summary: The New York Times' Catherine Rampell asked if Apple is trying to bust your iPhone to get you to upgrade. While it may benefit Apple – and every other company – to make old products obsolete, there are bigger forces at work.

TOPICS: Apple, Hardware, Storage
Is Apple busting your iPhone?

The writer wondered if the new iOS 7 was purposely designed to drain battery life to force users to upgrade to a newer iPhone. The proof? Well, there isn't any.

I also own an iPhone 4S. I haven't been satisfied with the battery life either so a year ago I got an add on battery case. Now I get a full days use.

Planned obsolescence
Perhaps planned obsolescence is part of Apple's strategy. But looking back on 75 years of obsolete computer equipment – and automobiles, appliances, careers, phone systems, medical equipment, and political ideologies – obsolescence is broader than a single company.

In fact, what many call planned obsolescence is seen by others as smart engineering. If a product is going to be thrown out or recycled why over invest in one part when some other part will cause it to fail? Ideally, every part and a product would wear out and fail on exactly the same day. That is maximum efficiency.

Moore's Law and obsolescence
Computer obsolescence is caused by the steadily improving economics of compute cycles, storage and networks. They all get faster and cheaper over time, making them powerfully attractive and economic at the same time.

We then invent applications to use the new power and performance that Moore's Law and other improvements bring. Often the most exciting apps will not run on existing older equipment. The product still does what it did when we bought it, but now we want it to do more. Whose fault is that?

At the same time the improved technology makes it possible to build more attractive equipment. Whether it's a smaller, lighter, brighter phone or a more energy efficient and powerful server, the new technology creates its own demand.

Correlation and causality
Obviously Apple benefits if many customers decide to upgrade every year or two. The phone companies agree as they now offer plans to enable the fashion forward to upgrade as often as every six months.

But looking at the computer industry as a whole it is clear that the churn created by new technology has benefited us all by enabling the big investments in design, engineering and manufacturing required to take computers from room size behemoths down to something you can hold in the palm of your hand. Correlation is not causality.

The Storage Bits take
Humans are excellent pattern recognition machines. Unfortunately, we sometimes see patterns were none exists.

This is one of those cases.

We live in a society where most economic activity is driven by consumer spending. Therefore, a large industry has grown up to help us spend.

Companies that build insanely attractive consumer products tend to do very well. Apple is a case in point.

And as long as they continue to build great products people like The New York Times writer will seek ways to justify buying them. Blaming Apple – or any company – for our desire for the latest and greatest isn't realistic. The fault does not lie in the stars but in us.

I see the benefits of the iPhone 5S, but I'm in no rush to upgrade. That battery case on the 4S gives me the functionality I need. But gee! a quad-core processor, larger screen and fingerprint recognition? Sounds good!

Comments welcome, as always. A friend uses an eight-year-old cell phone. What is your favorite piece of "obsolete" technology that you still use today?

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Storage

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  • Favourite piece of obsolescent tech?

    My Windows 8 laptop!
    • Full troll

      it suits you better
      • no you are...

        he is telling the truth. this is how it goes with windows
    • I suspect!

      You don't even have one, makes you obsolete! ;-)
      • Except that I do

        I have Win 8.1 running on a HP 8000 laptop, which is about 6 yo. It made an old laptop obsolescent. Think what you want, say what you want, but for me Win 8 is simply awful and useless!
        • Funny you say that

          HP 8000 what to be exact? Just because It can run Win8.1 doesn't mean you should have it running it. I had a dv8000z (max mem2gb, 120gb pata 7200 hdd, 128mb vid, Turion-64 ML-32 @1.8Ghz single core) Installed win7 on it and it ran, slower than XP but it ran, then installed 8 and same thing. Its good enough to do simple web browsing, MS Office 07 type docs, streaming and what not. When I got into heavy multitasking is when it starts to really show it's age. So that being said, because you feel Win 8 is awful, installed it on 6yr old system doesn't make your laptop obsolete if you are still using it. Sure it's obsolete due to HP not producing that model anymore.

          I sold that laptop to a friend that needed something to get them by during hard times for $75, Put a Win7 copy back on with Office 07 and they were happy. Win8 is better suited for laptops & desktops with touch screens.
          Free Webapps
    • Yes, Windows 8 IS obsolete... should upgrade to Windows 8.1.

      (\end sarcasm).
  • Gotta be

    My cars radio. Yep, I bought a Parrot hands free set to pipe my iPhone through the cars speakers, but I still use the radio regularly. Of course this talk reminds me of the discussion I had once with a pilot friend of mine and we were discussing price and maintenance requirements for small airplanes and he said quite matter of fact: If cars were subject to the same manufacturing standards and maintenance requirements as your average private commuter plane then cars would never fail and cost 10x as much. The maintenance fees on planes is insane...but the cost of a serious equipment failure is, death. Likewise we could similarly totally over-design our computers such that they outlive any reasonable standard of usefulness. It might give us a warm and fuzzy feeling we wasted precious resources building things that went into the dumpster working, but, useless.
  • Why oh why

    you should NOT buy an iPad 2 right now.
  • The ZDNET Gallery.

    That is a piece of obsolete tech that is continually being shoved at us.
  • A Bad Company

    A lot of people do not buy the latest shiny object and want their hard earned money to be a good investment, especially when the item costs a lot. Apple makes their products to inferior standards in the effort to cheat the masses out of their money. I want to get several years out of what I buy. Obviously, I am not an Apple Fanboy or Obama Zombie. Give me products that last, have replaceable parts (like batteries) and don't get destroyed by iOS updates that the company refuses to respond to. This is not just a one time thing, something major goes wrong with a lot of their stuff. Step one is to ignore it. Step two is to blame the customer, Step 3 is to actually put out a fix, but make it look like they are doing you a favor.
    • A company that does not provide what you

      Want is not a bad company. It is simply a company that doesn't provide what you want. People who buy from that company are not fools. They are simply people who value different things in the products they purchase than you do. It is incredibly arrogant for you to presume otherwise.
      • Oh No!

        Sorry fanboy, it is not arrogant not to want to buy overpriced buggy crap. I did not say that people who buy their stuff are fools. Apple folks have insanely intense brand loyalty, and that is nice for them and very nice for Apple. But, Apple is a bad Apple in the way they design, build and support their products. It is incredibly arrogant of Apple to be deleting the posts as they are doing. They are not addressing the problem. But, hey thanks for the personal attack. You kind of made my point.
        • Then Microsoft is even worse.

          After years of paying trolls to complain in online forms, Microsoft introduces a phone (of their own), with out user replaceable batteries.
          I hate trolls also
      • A lot of them are fools

        That's why swindling is still profitable in the short term (and in the long term we're all dead anyway).
        John L. Ries
    • Sounds good if it weren't for the facts

      Apple products have the highest resale value in the industry. That happens with superior build quality. Not inferior.

      Every year apple puts out the fastest phone in the industry with one of the best cameras and one of the best (although smaller) displays on a phone. They wrap it in a case with a fit and finish that nobody matches (although HTC 1 is very close).

      If you don't like them. Don't buy then. But you can't dismiss them and not sound like an idiot. IMHO
    • Not an "Apple Fanboy"...

      ...maybe you're a dittohead instead; or mayhap an MS-cultist.

      It turns out that name calling always goes both ways, so it's best not to do it at all.
      John L. Ries
  • No support is not a conspiracy theory

    Apple doesn't issue security updates for iOS6 for known issues that it included in iOS7. That's planned obsolescence in spades.
    • Really. What security flaw?

      Didn't read about that one as apple normally does patch known critical security flaws for a while. Although with 70% adoption rate I'd suspect they will not have to support it for long.

      Btw. Ios7 is running great on a 3 year old iPhone 4. Maybe it obsoletes 4 year old 3gs's?
      • Nope

        Apple does not support the 3GS (or the iPod Touch 4) for upgrades to iOS 7, so that's not the issue. And keep in mind, the 3GS debuted four years ago, but it was selling new just over a year ago, as Apple's entry-level device. It only stopped selling when the iPhone 5 debuted, pushing the iPhone 4S to the $100 level, and the iPhone 4 replaced the 3GS as the "free with contract" model.