Planned Obsolescence Over the Production of Cell Phones

Subject: Technology
Type: Evaluation Essay
Pages: 11
Word count: 2834
Topics: Cell Phone, Innovation, Management, Marketing, Smartphone


Planned obsolescence is when a certain product is designed and deliberately planned to last for a certain period of time. Ideally, it is on a short life span. This kind of product is designed to last for a shorter time but with proper service so that the customer who purchases it has a lasting need (Bartels, et al. 78). In addition, the product is developed in a way that the customers are convinced that it is durable and is of good quality even though it is developed to last for a shorter time since it will need a replacement at the end. This system will provoke the customer to purchase another device in the case that the one he or her purchased has failed completely. This research paper will thus be analyzing the planned obsolescence over the production of cell phones in an argumentative perspective. 

Planned obsolescence over the production of cell phones

As defined above, planned obsolescence over the production of cell phones is a well-planned and designed way in which the cell phones are manufactured but given a certain period in which they ought to last. Basically, companies dealing in cell manufacturing will do this in order to enhance their client’s consistence in using the company’s product. This is because, even though the cell phoned is designed to last for a shorter time, the user will feel the ultimate importance of the cell phone. As a result, the customer will be prompted to acquire the cell phone similar to the one he or she purchased some time back but because of obsolescence, it cannot be reliable. It is important to note that planned obsolescence sometimes is designed for specific products that customer can’t survive without (Bovier 71). 

For a cell phone is a product that most of the customers are using across the globe. Basically, planned obsolescence is associated with products that are upgraded on a shorter period. This is the reason as why companies will generate products that are designed to take shorter time in the market so that they can give their customers another chance to purchase the new and upgraded product of the same quality and durability. Therefore, the sole reason as why the cell phones are designed to last for a shorter period is to allow the customer to have the new upgraded version. Most of the cell phones are designed with the current technology so as they can keep on producing and maintain the customer profile in relation to their products. This is despite that the producers of cell phones with the current technology have know-how of the future technologies (Chapman 36). However they opt to choose the current technology in order to have the customers need in future of the same product because of obsolescence. 

In reality, this kind of planning aren’t good at all given the fact that the manufactures have an established know how of producing cell phones that can be used in the future technology but instead they opt to use the current technology which does not last for long because after a specified period of time, the certain customer will be forced to purchase the new cell phone since the one he or she purchased will be obsolete. Therefore as much as the manufactures are to have future sales of their product, they ought to have quality and durable products that can last for much longer time for their customers to be satisfied with the service. It is worth noting that planned obsolesce of the products especially with the products gets the user as a surprise. This effect gets the user with a negative connotation (Fitzpatrick 39). 

On the other hand producing cell phones with a limited life span is a good deal for the manufactures and other business in the chain.  This is because it is absolutely true that the manufactures of these cell phones have the capability of producing cell phones that can last for a longer period using the future technology. However, they choose the current technology in the manufacture of the cell phones over the future technology. Perhaps these manufactures have their own reasons that are well known to them, but ideally, this scheme enables them to be in the market for a longer time (MIAO 58). This will enable them to meet the input expenses as well as the labor costs that they pay the individual with skills and expertise in manufacturing these products.  In addition, there are other business enterprises in the chain who act as distributors of these products; they have to be on the market for them to earn a living. These are business which sale the cell phones on behalf of the manufactures.

Therefore, if the products were produced to last for a longer time as compared with the planned obsolescence that most of the manufactures are doing currently then most of the business and the people who rely on them will definitely close down. Therefore, the planned obsolescence of cell phones to some extend is a good thing to all those involved in the entire business chain of the cell phones. It is important to note that there is some good that comes with the planned cell phone obsolescence. This is the fact that, the new devices that come into the market after the current ones becomes obsolete are accompanied with new features that are tailored to the current needs of the user. This may be in terms of the speed of the cell phones, the storage capacity of the phone. It is obvious that with the new technology, the cell phones that come into the market are ones that fits the users in terms of the new technology aspects. For instance a cell phone may be having connection ports like USB or there cables that can enable it be connected to the computer via this ports or via Bluetooth (Bartels, et al. 45).

However since the future of the technology in respect to the current phones ought to be much better, the manufactures therefore may be working on something much more than the current devices, perhaps like making the phone compatible with different sizes of the devices. It is absolutely possible that the current phones can be upgraded by use of certain software, but the use of the current USB or the Jack ports will make the cell phone obsolete. As a result, the customer will need to purchase a new cell phone in order to be able to use it in connection with the new USB and Jack ports that the manufactures may have invented. This leaves the user of the old cell phones with no option but to purchase the new one so as they can be able to continue accessing the cell phone services. Although, the cell phone may not be having any problem but since the connecting devices cannot be compatible any longer, they are forced to purchase another cell phone. 

The idea that the cell phone has become obsolete and cannot be used any longer, makes the ultimate user incur some unplanned expenses since they will be forced to acquire another cell phone not because the other one has spoiled but because it has become obsolete. It would have been much better if the manufactures would have been able to invent new devices that are compatible with the cell phones that are currently in the market but then it is not possible because their objective ought to be met as well as ensure the entire chain dealing with cell phones can be able to be business throughout. It is notable that perhaps the designers of obsolete products do ask themselves a number of questions in order to come up with certain new products. As a result, perhaps the products that are made have the determined life span that will not leave the user regretting because of the service they would have acquired from the cell phone. Therefore, this will leave the user with some level of confidence in the product as well as the manufacture will be intact in the market (Planned Obsolescence [evideo – Films on Demand]: Why Some Durable Goods Aren’t so Durable 12). 

Planned obsolescence has adverse effects on the environment. This is because these obsolete products are dumped in the environment. Majorly, the customers dump this products in the environment so as they can be able to acquire some new products. The dumped products in the environment can be disastrous because most of these products are not made of plastics which does nor decompose easily. They will therefore stay there for a number of years and may cause some harmful effects to the human staying in the environment. In fact there are some other customers who decide to burn these obsolete products. Burning of the plastic items produces carbon gases which are detrimental to the ozone layer. The destruction of ozone layer makes it to allow the ultra-rays to penetrate the earth which has been associated with some other deadly disease to the human race. 

However, it is worth noting also that some of these devises are designed with some gadgets and compatibles that can be recycled by the manufactures. As a result, when they are dumped by the customer, the manufactures can collect them once again and use them making use of them though the ultimate customer may have not seen any use in it.  Therefore, the product may have been not important to the user; the manufactures are recycling it thereby getting some benefits again at the cost of the ultimate user. This is what normally happens with the manufactures of cell phones (Pope 23). They get the dumped cell phones, recycle them and then re-introduce them in the market as new products. They will make much more money again even though they had already made. On the side of the customer, they incur loses since the products they had thrown away because they would not be used, have been recycled and resold them again. 

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Basically the planned obsolescence of cell phones is as a result of upgrading of these gadgets. However it is important to accept the fact that instead of upgrading the cell phones the customers can have an option of repairing it.  This will mean saving on the side of the customer. The arguments given that the cell phones obsolescence is as a result of the need to propel the technological advancement to some extend may be true but not to all the cell phones. Therefore, the idea of replacing the cell phones instead of repairing is a big waste to the clients or the users of those products.  These waste products as mentioned above also pollute the environments and damages the other environmental factors. Though on the downfalls, any trial to repair is never given any priority as it ought to be.  However, it has been noted that for instance the iPhone cell phone battery faults every month. This makes the gadget unreliable even if it were to be repaired or upgraded since it slows down the cells operations since the cell phone may not have enough capacity to hold the new upgrades. At the end of the day, the users of the iPhones will be forced to upgrade and use the new upgraded version of the iPhone (MIAO 56). 

The idea of “forcing” the customers to dump their cell phones in order to start using other ones is absolutely ridiculous. This would be much more economical on the side of the customer if they were to use these gadgets for much longer time. Therefore, instead of producing cell phones with a limited life span, the manufactures can opt to produce cell phones that can take much longer time but then sale them at a premium price. However, there will be fewer customers who will be willing to pay the price of the much longer lasting cell phone. This is the reason as why the manufactures do produce cell phones that have planned obsolescence. There is other importance of manufactures producing cell phones with determined life span. These may be argued that the planned obsolescence of the cell phones is a good thing to any economic growth.  This is because; planned obsolescence of cell phones enhances the demand and the supply cycle. This is very critical for any business to grow. Creating new demand in any given economy promotes the economic growth of the given country. 

Planned obsolescence for the cell phones has been said to be good for the society. This is because, planned obsolescence will enable the business to grow much bigger and this is good for the society since most individuals will secure jobs. As a result, the purchasing power of the people increases which in turn increases the individual’s living standards. The cycle will continue in that manner and as a result the society will flourish. The planned obsolescence is also good for the human (MIAO 52). This is because human beings have the tendency of getting bored when they are used to one thing for longer time. They get bored when they use one cell phone for longer time. Therefore, it is important that they satisfy their psychological needs by changing the cell phones to the current ones that are upgraded. Change enables the individual to grow as well. In this matter, the individuals psychological will grow as a result of satisfying their desires by use of material assets. In addition, the purchasing power gives an individual some sense and level of confidence as well as satisfaction. 

There is some of planned obsolescence that is deemed to be good types. For instance, the “value engineering” as well as functional obsolescence is some of the obsolescence designs that are deemed better to the individual. The value engineering is where there is little use of materials in making the desired material with the defined life span. It also takes into consideration the fact that all the components expires at the same time. This ensures that there is no single part that is overbuilt in relation to other parts. On the other hand, functional obsolesce is a situation in which a genuine product is introduced in the market whereby the old one is rendered useless (Planned Obsolescence [evideo – Films on Demand]: Why Some Durable Goods Aren’t so Durable 15).

The value engineering has made tremendous changes in the inventions in cell phones technological advancement. It is important to note that, the cell phone manufactures have the capability of making these products last for as many years as they wish. However, instead the manufactures have designed the cell phone to be useful only for a certain period of time. This is related to the numerous technological advances that the engineering field. As a result of the new technological advancements in the engineering field, it can be concluded that it is thus useless to manufacture a cell phone that will last for much longer time. Considering the fact that cell phones are manufactured from less expensive plastic materials, it makes logic that producing new ones that meet the current technological demands is vital. Therefore, this is an important aspect to cell phones unlike in the instance where the cell phone would be made out of a material for example bronze, this would mean they lasts long, they will be expensive as compared to the current prices and above all they will need more resources to function. Thus, it is notable that producing new products that do not last long ideally, saves resources. In addition, this will mean the consumers will have an affordable product in the market (Pope 85). 

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Functional obsolescence is when ideally a new innovation is introduced in the market thereby making the current ones obsolete. For instance, the transition from simple cell phones to a much more functional smart phone. It is important to note that functional obsolescence creates a lot of waste because when a new innovation is introduced in the market the older one is made useless. However, in the trade of, is that the ultimate consumer gets superior products that are more reliable than the previous products before the innovation. In many instance, functional obsolescence occurs as a result of the less time that will be required by the new product.  This therefore implies that there will be an increase in the human time. 


In conclusion therefore, planned obsolescence for cell phones has two diverse perspectives depending on the analysis. For instance, one can argue that, planned obsolescence for cell phones is critical since it brings into the market new cell phones which are much better than the previous ones.  On the other hand those who are against the planned obsolescence of new cell phones argue that the introduction of new technology renders the current ones useless and thus they’re dumped. Dumping pollutes and damages the environments. Therefore in summary, I can say that everything has its positive and negative sides including the planned obsolescence of cell phones. 

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  2. Bartels, Bjoern, et al. Strategies to the Prediction, Mitigation and Management of Product Obsolescence. 2012. 
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  4. Chapman, Maile. “Treasure, Trash and Planned Obsolescence.” Writing a First Novel, 2014, pp. 49-57. 
  5. Fitzpatrick, Kathleen. Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy. New York UP, 2012. 
  6. MIAO, CHUN-HUI. “TYING, COMPATIBILITY AND PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE*.” The Journal of Industrial Economics, vol. 58, no. 3, 2010, pp. 579-606. 
  7. Pope, Kamila. Understanding Planned Obsolescence: Unsustainability Through Production, Consumption and Waste Generation. 2017. Understanding Planned Obsolescence. Kogan Page, 2017. 
  8. Rampell Catherine. Planned Obsolescence, as Myth or Reality. The New York Times. 2013. Accessed 21 April 2018. 
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