Planned obsolescence has led to ridiculous product cycles, and it’s time to say enough is enough

May 26, 2016

“In the 1920s, it was becoming more and more difficult for automobile manufacturers to sell their product, as the market had become saturated. Anyone who had the money and desire to purchase a car had already bought one.

General Motors president Alfred Sloan decided on a simple solution: annual model changes. Imitating a process that had already been used by bicycle manufacturers, Sloan released the 1923 Chevrolet. The car had a completely new exterior, but the chassis was unchanged.

Sloan had invented the “model year,” a concept that today is so common it’s hard to imagine how cars could be sold without it. This was a crucial moment for industry, as it demonstrated consumers would purchase a new car — a considerable expenditure back then, as today — despite minimal changes.

The practice is alive and well, and has been refined by consumer technology. Today’s tech giants don’t just practice planned obsolescence; they’re founded on it.”

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