Additional Resources

  1. An Economic Theory Of Planned Obsolescence []
  2. An Empirical Analysis Of Planned Obsolescence []
  3. The Role Of The Designer In A Planned Obsolescence Economy []
  4. R&d Appropriability And Planned Obsolescence []
  5. Keeping It Fresh: Strategic Product Redesigns And Welfare []


Planned Obsolescence is a book by Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Director of Scholarly Communication at the Modern Language Association and Visiting Research Professor of English at New York University, published by NYU Press on November 1, 2011.

Planned Obsolescence

If a manufacturing company makes a decision to produce a product in a way that it becomes useless or out of date within a specified period of time, then this manufacturing decision is known as planned obsolescence.

Goal of Planned Obsolescence

The main goal and purpose behind planned obsolescence is to make sure that the consumers, instead of buying a product only once, have to buy it again and again. This, of course, stimulates the demands for such products in the market because the consumers keep coming back to buy the product again and again.

Products that are Subjected to Planned Obsolescence

A number of everyday products, from basic commodities like a light bulb to high-end expensive item like buildings and cars that are subjected to obsolescence by the manufacturing companies. Hence, the idea of planned obsolescence is not limited to any one kind of product.

Effect on Consumers

The idea of planned obsolescence is not taken positively by the consumers in general. The condition even worsens if the same product is manufactured by a competing company and is made much more durable than the first one. This can lead to bad reputation and customer backlash towards the brand or the manufacturers.

However, there are circumstances where planned obsolescence may actually not be that bad and also not have many negative connotations. Companies may engage in the activity of planned obsolescence as a means of controlling the costs of the products they are manufacturing. For example: the manufacturer of a cell phone may use a component that works well for 5 years instead of one that may function for 20 years. It is highly unlikely that a person will use the same cell phone for 20 years. Hence, the manufacturer can cut down on the cost of the cell phone and this lowering of cost can also be carried forward to the final consumer. Under such circumstances, the chances that they will face customer backlash are also negligible. Using planned obsolescence should, however, be done very carefully to make sure that the reputation of the brand is not jeopardized during the process.

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