General discussion

Cell phones, planned obsolescence

Planned obsolescence: Designing a product with a limited useful life, so it will become obsolete in a period of time earlier than it would have otherwise.

What do you guys think about the planned obsolescence of mobile devices in general.

Do you guys like how manufacturers end a products life on purpose just so consumers will buy the latest products?

Discussion is locked
Reply to: Cell phones, planned obsolescence
PLEASE NOTE: Do not post advertisements, offensive materials, profanity, or personal attacks. Please remember to be considerate of other members. If you are new to the CNET Forums, please read our CNET Forums FAQ. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Reporting: Cell phones, planned obsolescence
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
- Collapse -

My old nokia went on for over 5 years. Is that too short for you? I bet it would gone longer but I moved and got a better phone.

I have to disagree there is any plan here. CONSUMERS vote with their wallets.

- Collapse -

Last time I checked, the average automobile, kitchen appliance, computer or virtually any electronic component doesn't have an unlimited life. As technology evolves, the older devices are replaced. I would hate to have to rely on an old 8-track tape player to listen to my favorite songs. I don't even think you can buy a new, store-bought computer with a CD-ROM, they now have DVD drives now. What about the older beta-max cassette players? Life moves on and technology improves. No conspiracy here.

- Collapse -
Yes, but...

True many investable "appliances" do run their course of tech-value and practicality of use (good examples, DVD/VHS or Casette Tapes/MP3, like you said). But consider this: are you bound by contract to use these same appliances in comparison to your mobile phone? Sure, you can probably think of loopholes (you could by a Blackberry before you are eligible for an upgrade, but how much is that going to run you?). But my point is that although a lot of technology is improved over time, can you think of something that is developing faster, has a higher demand for, and run under a more corrupted industrial system than the mobile phone?

- Collapse -
Here there is choice.

I have quite a few choices here in Southern California to the point I can't call foul. Are you in some iron curtain country?

- Collapse -

So as long as you can choose how they exploit you as a CONSUMER, everything okay. The "voting with dollars" business model only works in a competitive, free market. You still think the mobile phone industry is a competitive market? I live in East Germany.

- Collapse -
Now that country I know.

I lived through the days working with export of MODEMS to Germany and it was as if they were in the 40's with some strict controls on modems and more. They were nothing but a PITA when it came to telephony and communications.

2 decades later and they are still quite tight on the communications business!

I feel for you,

- Collapse -

I'll pretend that you got my East Germany-iron curtain reference (as well as the Dirk one). I really can't say I know a whole lot about modems and the communications business but it disappoints me that someone that does is ignorant to its obvious flaws.

- Collapse -
Sadly I have take your word here.

If you tell me you are in Germany then I'll believe you. As to my knowledge of modems, it was a job for me to work not only technical comms issues but do the export paperwork to Germany.

If you want to fib about your location, then what other lies have you told us?

- Collapse -

Bob, I am sorry to have gone with the "East Germany" (proper noun) reference. I meant it as play on the iron curtain reference and to argue that location doesn't have much weight on this topic. (but maybe it does! what about international mobile phones? that could be interesting!) I'm sorry and you have my apologies.
Doug from Colorado

- Collapse -
Me too.

We have a lot of choices out here and I'll share with folk not only from my experiences but from the sometimes interesting jobs over the years. My time working with some major telco maker and exports to China, Germany and many other countries gave me some insight into the markets.

Draconian would be a mild word compared to what the rules were at the time in Germany. China at the time was very strange as the rules were fluid at times. Just when you thought you had all the documents, another regulation would appear.

INTERNATIONAL MOBILE PHONES are a mess. I see no end to that since it's quite the pig trough.

- Collapse -

Yes, this is interesting! So internationally, it is a mess. Would you say too many regulations, or perhaps, the wrong regulations ran these industries astray?

- Collapse -
A mess for consumers.

The most common travel I do now is US, Canada and Taiwan. Sprint wants 300USD a month for my phone to work there. And they have no solution for Taiwan travel at any price.

The mess is in the pricing and more. Hope this satisfies your question.

- Collapse -
Even Sprint offers roaming in Taiwan

Not sure who you spoke with at Sprint(?)

- Collapse -
Local office and one level up.

Both said no to Taipei, Taiwan. Didn't ask a third time. The price to use in Canada was steep at 300 per month. This for the usual Evo 4G.

- Collapse -
In what way are they a mess?

If you could elaborate a little more on this Bob, it would be helpful.

- Collapse -
Evo 4G not the best choice for Taiwan

It's a wimax handset, and lacks any GSM or WCDMA radios of many of the other Sprint international phones.

I just got off the phone with my wife's friend who travels to Asia regulary. She said her friends mostly have ATT in the states but a few business associates do use Sprint branded Blackberries around Taiwan. I'm sure there are a few HTC models as well that do both CDMA & GSM. Here's the link to a list of Sprint handsets/services/prices by country-

- Collapse -
Just so you know.

I also carry my Pharos m619 when I go there and can slip in a GSM card.

Hope this clears this up.

- Collapse -
It does help, but.. your case the option of a single handset for foreign travel does exist, even with a CDMA carrier. That's the only point I was making. And they aren't terribly expensive either.

- Collapse -
perhaps, but...

...your assertion (using such logic) therefore would be that Nokia (for example) necessarily has no way to compete with Apple's iPhone because the market is not competitive(?) I believe the opposite- they got complacent and their tailfeathers spanked because Apple provider a superior smartphone experience. If Nokia/Microsoft can come up with something better the consumers will take notice.

- Collapse -
No Doubt

You are absolutely right, I agree that phone manufacturers have plenty of competition. I mean there's a ton brands out there, right? I should have been more specific in the phrase "mobile phone industry." I was referring to the cartel of big wireless carriers that run the industry. My argument is that something as inelastic as mobile phone service shouldn't be run by such an oligopoly without more regulation (or at least some sort of dialogue! which I'm glad you and I are having). So I'd like to ask you, in a respectful and professional way (sometimes I think forums can distort tone and create unintended undertones), simply, would you agree that mobile phone carriers are running a low-competitive market on an inelastic good?

- Collapse -
I always thought wireless phone service was elastic

My understanding from listening to various economists was that wireless service is an elastic good. As prices go up the demand decreases slightly, hence the popularity now of less expensive prepaid service.

- Collapse -
Intuitively inelastic

I am including a response to your comment below here as well.

- Collapse -
This is where you are incorrect

People don't *need* wireless phones in the sense that they do pharma. Not having a wireless phone service doesn't mean you will perish. It just means sometimes you have to borrow a phone or find a landline. Not having free in network calling or similar features that are somewhat limited to post-paid plans doesn't mean that people could not get by otherwise. Somewhat in your defense however, wireless handsets are most certainly a commodity now, but at the same time service is quite affordable for most, given the multiple options of prepaid/MVNOs/etc.

- Collapse -

I will try one last time on elasticity and on the need of phones in society today.

- Collapse -
You are over-complicating things

The folks who can't pay for post-paid service but need a phone move to prepaid. That's already happening. There's no conspiracy. Choices exist. [playing the devil's advocate- why should the wireless companies give away their service(?) What would be a reasonable price in your opinion(?) Questions, questions...]

- Collapse -
More to it than that

You're dipping into something here that I have thought a lot about lately. And that is how much wireless companies take advantage of customers. It is such a relatively new industry that it has free formed into a global scam. I'm talking about usage contracts, device contracts, required data plans, separation of carriers/phone manufacturers, "planned obsolescence" and how carriers have doped the public into a labyrinth of fine print. Think about it, you buy a two year contract, but you need a new phone after 18 months. Simple as that. Why can't I buy a phone, pay my carrier without having to be contracted? All carriers, the whole system, how it operates is corrupt and American consumers are paying the price. We all know that the market is, by nature, predominantly oligopolistic to begin with (few firms, new firms can't enter without insane infrastructural effects, and its to the point where the mobile phone is an inelastic good that everyone "needs," (I say that with quotes (and yes I am going parenthetical inside a parenthetical) because let's be honest, who in the modern, average high-school, college campus, work place, household can say with wholehearted honesty that they could successfully function inside their society, professionally and socially, without a cell phone?) and everyone wants, steep demand curve) so why hasn't there been anything, any movement to confront this? Because people fail to listen to people like you and me.

- Collapse -

Let's correct some of your assumptions. This topic has been beaten to death ad nauseum.

- Collapse -

Well, I am not only talking about ending a life of a product.

I am also talking about it in a upgrade basis. For instance, you buy one product and an upgraded version is released. Also, canceling tech support on older obsolete products to get you to upgrade to newer items. For example: "You need version 10.5 or over to receive tech support" when I have 10.4. That is just an example.

CNET Forums