Built-in obsolescence

I am very annoyed with my sony minidisc player right now, as it has just conked out…again. the first time it broke (through no discernible fault of my own - i take good care of my possessions!), it was 2 DAYS before the warranty expired … a lucky escape!

But now it has broken again, forcing me to buy a new one (repair is going to cost me more than a new unit!) I have started thinking … do electronics manufacturers create their products, with a “built-in obsolescence”?

i.e. Sony, and other electronics giants create their products not to last forever, but to eventually break spontaeneously, forcing us to buy ANOTHER one of their products.

Is there any credibility in this accusation?

I stay away from just about any Sony products.

Here’s a story:

We have an old Sony Trinitron TV that still works perfectly now after abt 20 years. So years ago, we were shopping for another one for some reason. That was whan Sony had a plant in Malaysia and it was cheaper than those made in Japan… how much cheaper? Almost 30%.

So we went for the cheaper option of course, and within 2 years, the buttons on the tv stopped working. The whole construction was far less solid than the old ones and it was a total disappointment.


Sony now produce stupid gadgets that has little quality to talk about. Furthermore, what pisses me off most, is that they can jack up their proces just because they have a strong brand.

I always look at Panasonic products. If you can find something in Sony, chances are there is something similar offered by Panasonic. They are made in Japan, long lasting, and CHEAPER than Sony products.

Most electronic products are meant to have short market lifespan. People change them like clothes, so most of them compete for quantity as opposed to quality. Too bad.

From the outside it seems like built-in obsolescence. The real reason is, consumers will not pay an extra price to have a product that is easily repairable. This leads to products that are snap together, with all parts soldered, glued or somehow attached permanently to one another. In a product like that, it will cost alot to repair.

A similar product that is designed to have easily interchangable parts will cost more to develop and product.

Another reason is the cheap labour that produces these products. If someone is paid $.50 an hour to assemble a CD player, it won’t cost much. The repairman has to charge $50 an hour to cover his shop, buy tools, and make a living. So you can see the labour problem here.

Sony doesn’t like going along with the rest of the field with emerging tech. So you often have compatability problems. I have a minidisc too, and I’m in the process of getting my old discs on cd before it breaks and is unreplaceable. They were still pushing md and have only recently hopped on the mp3 player market, years late. I also have a $150 Sony dvd combo player that won’t play a lot of dvd’s I rent for some strange reason, the same dvd’s that play perfectly well on my friends $15 apex crap player.
I’m pretty much done with them also. Seems like only the tv’s and small headphones are good, the rest seems too finicky.

i guess i agree with all the points above on why personal electronics break so easily. We went to a talk on sustainable design at Loughborough university back in august, and going over the points that were raised, this “buy - break - discard - buy” cycle can hardly be beneficial to the enironment. In not one instruction manual, leaflet, shop point-of-sale, or website have I seen ANY information on product-takeback or environmentally safe disposal, except for the takeback of the Li-On batteries. A disgrace, surely.

hmm i think i may hop on the apple bandwagon … since all the issues with their batteries have blown over, i havn’t heard of any product-breakdown issues with their products … are there?

hmm i think i may hop on the apple bandwagon … since all the issues with their batteries have blown over, i havn’t heard of any product-breakdown issues with their products … are there?

Lets see…

Overheating issues with the G4 Cube, battery exploding issues with newer Powerbooks, headphone jack issues with the iPods, dead display issues with Powerbooks and serious color issues with the new cinema displays.

Apple is just as bad as any other company.

haha okay then, i didn’t know about those.

what are apple’s warranty and repair services like?

The cube had no fan (of course it overheated easily), the batteries overheated (not exploded), the headphone jacks were indeed pretty crappy, the dead displays were replaced free of charge, and I’ve had no problems with my new 20" cinema display.

Apple certainly is not “as bad as any other company”.