Every time I buy a new technology product, I wonder how long it will last.
I salivate over anything new from Apple. But, I’ve had a number of Apple products fail recently. My Apple Time Capsule, marketed as a “revolutionary storage device”, died after just two years, unfixable, losing all the files it was designed to store. My two-year old iPhone seems as clunky and quirky as an old car. The iPhone battery is one of the quickest components to fail, but there’s no easy way to change it.
I found scores of similar stories online and was told I shouldn’t have counted on any of these products lasting longer than two years.
“Planned obsolescence” is a classic consumer marketing strategy, particularly with technology companies. The shorter the lifespan, the quicker consumers will replenish. Getting rid of the old makes way for the new. Consumers theoretically forgive obsolescence because of the wonder of the new new thing.
I wonder though if that design philosophy will ever spark a backlash. Why do consumer products have to be so consumable? Will we ever prize longevity as a design criteria for consumer technology products?
I’m interested in the trend of designing products to last. Hiut Denim launched recently, featuring a History Tag. Each pair of jeans comes with a digital tag that chronicles the long life of that specific product, as long as the consumer owns it. The products are actually designed to get better with age.
“After all if we make a pair of great jeans that last, so should the memories that are made in them … And that’s the genius of making a product to last. It will give our objects more meaning. It will mean we throw things away less. Because it attaches the stories to the objects that we love.”
Innovation is magical. But so is craftsmanship.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post. I’ll pick one comment by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)