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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Why Apple Isn’t Sabotaging Your Old iPhone [Opinion] | Cult of Mac

The more sophisticated a device is, the less repairable by amateurs it is, and because Apple is so far ahead of the competition, it is often the first accused of “planned obsolescence” for manufacturing devices using designs that will become the new benchmark for repairability in the next year. The goalpost is ever shifting. One of Apple’s industrial designers told me that the products are very carefully designed to be repaired, but by professional technicians, not consumers.
Even so, Apple does more than most companies to make sure that if your iPhone, iPad or Mac breaks, you can get it replaced. There are almost four hundred Apple Stores with fully serviced Genius Bars around the country that will repair or replace your device in the first year’s warranty, In addition, Apple sells a product called AppleCare which has set the gold standard for extended warranties in the tech industry.
Apple is also often accused of another form of planned obsolescence: systemic obsolescence.
According to critics, every time Apple releases a new version of OS X or iOS that doesn’t work with past Macs or iPhones, it’s deliberately making these devices largely obsolete. There’s nothing devious about this, though: the natural result of being quick to embrace the future is to be similarly quick to abandon the past. Microsoft, for example, has largely maintained backwards compatibility with Windows apps for the past twenty years, but the result has been an operating system that is extremely vulnerable to glitches and freezes, as well as malware and security exploits.
The move from the 30-Pin Dock Connector to Lightning might also be described as one engineered out of planned obsolescence. Because Apple changed the dock connector for its line-up of iDevices, critics argue that the hundreds of millions of accessories and cables that use the earlier 30-Pin standard have been made obsolete.
Such a criticism is unavoidable, but when accusing a company of planned obsolescence, intent matters. The 30-Pin Dock Connector was a bulky component to fit into devices that have been ever slimming. Even so, Apple used that dock connector for almost ten years, and to ease the transition continues to sell affordable 30-Pin to Lightning adapters for people who want to use their new iPhones, iPods and iPads in their old 30-pin accessories.
The truth is that critics who accuse Apple of planned obsolescence usually don’t understand the nuances of the term. In 1960, cultural critic Vance Packard divided planned obsolescence into two categories: planned obsolescence of desirability and planned obsolescence of function. These two concepts are not the same thing, and Apple is only guilty of one of them. Their goal, of course, is to make every product better than the one before, and market it as such. But if Apple is unafraid to embrace the future, that doesn’t make them underhanded: it makes them courageous. It’s a win for consumers.


Why Apple Isn’t Sabotaging Your Old iPhone [Opinion] | Cult of Mac

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