Great news! Just when you got your long-awaited latest release iPhone, guess what? The newest iPhone is about to be released in a couple of months. Big changes are coming on the phone, mostly external, including color choice and camera placement. But why is Apple launching a hardly-modified phone every fall instead of working on one model for a couple years to bring a major change to society? The answer relies on marketing and something we call planned and perceived obsolescence.
Planned and perceived obsolescence in Apple
These marketing tricks are used to boost the level of production and demand. In simpler words, big companies need you to be a great consumer, buying every new product without any questions asked.
Perceived obsolescence- Remember when we talked about the “BIG” changes on the new iPhone 14, which were mainly color and camera placement? This is exactly it. Apple will constantly change the aesthetic of the iPhone. Older versions of the iPhone are easily identifiable, while newer versions stand out in comparison. Therefore, everyone can see who has which phone. Modern Day consumers tend to want the newer, trendier version of any product. With aesthetics constantly changing, we can signal our “coolness” by purchasing and wielding a newer version each year.
Planned obsolescence-The other side of the marketing team focuses on tactics to make the product’s life shorter from as early as the manufacturing stage; Apple will opt to use cheaper materials to produce its phones. They make sure that your phone will break or function poorly so that you will replace them more often. For example, as Apple itself stated, the lithium-ion batteries in the devices become less capable of supplying current demands as they age over a short time. We see planned obsolescence more often when we talk about these products.
Missing something in your iPhone box?
The biggest step that Apple took with the launching of its iPhone 12 Series is the removal of wired earphones and the power adapter from the box. Apple claims to be trying to reduce e-waste and carbon emissions, and “will make their products entirely with clean energy by 2030” (Medium.com). Their tactic seems like blatant Greenwashing1. Apple removing these necessary parts may as well be part of their planned obsolescence; to make the consumer pay for every part that was previously given to you (charger head, headphones, etc.)
Why is it so slow?
Many Apple customers have speculated that the company is actively slowing down their old devices the moment a new one launches. After constant bickering, Apple came forward to confirm that older models did indeed slow down as they aged, but denied that the reasoning is to encourage people to upgrade to a newer model. Their justification relied on the short lifespan of the previously mentioned lithium-ion batteries. According to BBC News, the aging of the batteries can cause an unexpected shutdown of a divide designed to preserve the phones’ electronic components. Again, this can be the result of yet another planned obsolesce tactic used by the company, since the device’s speed increases after a battery change.
The habits of Fast Fashion are not reserved for the world of clothing; Electronic devices are designed to be fashionable and quickly churned-out, too. The dangers of this consumer addiction are numerous. Companies have consumers dancing around their palms, blinded by the numerous manipulation tactics they use to grab our attention. With this in mind, stay smart, and try to only buy what you need.
Greenwashing: when a company purports to be environmentally conscious for marketing purposes but actually isn’t making any notable sustainability efforts. Edwards, Carlyann. “What Is Greenwashing, and How Do You Spot It?” Business News Daily, https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/10946-greenwashing.html.