Ever since the 1920s manufacturers have been planning the future failure of their devices, to keep consumers coming back for more.
Technology is the epitome of innovation. Because of it our world is forever moving forward, communication is easier than ever before and entertainment is the best it’s ever been.
Yet the industry has a serious flaw underpinning and juxtaposing its pioneering nature – planned obsolescence.
Manufacturers have cleverly conditioned consumers to expect their products to fail over time.
In fact, products have been designed so the customer inherently believes they are buying into a quality product, even though it will need to be replaced not long after it is first bought.
According to CEA’s CE Product Life Cycle study, consumers expect most products to last only five years on average.
The research shows that the expectation for flat panel TVs is 7.4 years, while the smartphone takes the title of the shortest life expectancy with just 4.7 years.
The current human life expectancy in the UK is 81.5 years.
With that figure in mind, we’re each expected to go through 11 TVs and 17 smartphones in our lifetime, a figure which just isn’t sustainable.
Planned obsolescence is not wholly unique to technology, however.
The fashion industry, for example, survives on built in obsolescence and the idea that what is wore one season should be replaced by something new the next season.
Change needs to happen.
The motoring industry is leading the way in future-proofing consumer products.
According to the BCA Used Car Report, the average age of cars has been on the rise for the past 10 years.
79% of cars are now reaching their 12th year, with 41.6% making it to the 15th, a clear reflection of improved manufacturing.
The technology industry needs to break its habit and create products that last for a significant amount of time and can be updated and integrated as homes and lifestyles change, rather than be removed or discarded.
Modern lifestyles are much more fluid than they have ever been before.
People can do more, travel more and access more and technology needs to be designed to move through time just as people do.
At Bang & Olufsen our mantra for core technology purchases in the home, such as televisions and home theatre systems, has been to service customers for a long time and adapt according to their lifestyle.
BeoLink Multiroom is our latest concept, which has been designed to span across multiple generations of products, both old and new.
It’s important for manufacturers to focus on allowing users to add products in their own time as their collection grows, given that they are built to last.
When this is adopted across the industry, the technology space can enjoy much greater sustainability and a healthier cycle of product rejuvenation and replacement.
The industry needs to realise that users don’t lose out by not buying new technology, they can keep quality products up-to-date through easy, waste-free software updates.
Features and functionality don’t need to be compromised, but longevity and value need to be prioritised.
This has been central to our success over the past 90 years, prioritising the consumer and integrating with their lifestyle.
With the technology space only set to grow, manufacturers need to show responsibility to the environment and the industry and ensure that they are offering consumers the best possible products that endure the test of time.
People want flexible solutions, products that fit in with their lives and can be activated with one simple touch.
Nobody wants a house full of dead and solitary products, instead they want technology experiences which move them that they can take with them and stay with them for however long they are there.
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