Breaking the upgrade cycle

While companies are busy making consumers run the replacement treadmill, their strategy of 'planned obsolescence' won't last forever.

Other than gaining new users, the principle driver of growth for technology companies is in forcing consumers into a regular cycle of upgrade and replacement. In a recent report, Recon Analytics showed that consumers in the US were replacing their mobile phones every 22 months. This is in part due to the heavy subsidising of phones by US telecommunications companies making it relatively inexpensive to buy new phones. But it has also been driven by companies like Apple developing new phones on an annual cycle and adopting strategic decisions about what features they include, or more importantly don’t include, in each year’s models. The most recent example of this was to only include Siri in the newer iPhone 4S and not allow it on earlier phones even though there was no technical reason for that.


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