Monthly Archives: June 2013

Planned obsolescence: conspiracy or necessity?

Planned obsolescence means that a product is designed to become obsolete after a certain period of time even though it can still be considered useful. The obsolescence can be technical, which means that the product breaks, or psychological, which means that people consider the product outdated. 

For the technical obsolescence, products can usually be repaired or maintained in order to extend their life, but this can prove to be quite costly, which encourages people to buy new products instead. 

For the psychological obsolescence, people feel that a new product is more useful, which is not always the case. People are also influenced by others and by marketing when deciding that a product is outdated for reasons other than technological.

The concept of planned obsolescence is not new and some people even believed that it can help end the great depression of the thirties by stimulating the economy (see “Ending the Depression Through Planned Obsolescence”, By Bernard London, 1932). Others think that it’s a way for companies to make people buy products that they don’t really need. In his book The Waste Makers, Vance Packard thinks that planned obsolescence is part of “the systematic attempt of business to make us wasteful, debt-ridden, permanently discontented individuals”. 

Planned obsolescence could help reduce production costs which should lower prices. On the other hand, buying cheaper products more often may not be better. For instance, if you need to change a laptop every year and you pay $500 each time, you’ll end up paying more than you would pay for a $800 laptop that lasts 2 years. What do you think? Can consumers also benefit from planned obsolescence?

Also, do you prefer to replace or repair? Or maybe it doesn’t matter to you, as long as the price is right (e.g.: replacing is cheaper)?

Finally, should we consider environmental issues such as recycling plastic or some components or electronics devices which are “processed” by people in places like this “electronic graveyard”?


Obsolescence programmée des télévisions


Can social media change marketing?

Traditional marketing was more about broadcasting than anything else, which means that companies were pushing out content about how great their products are and why they are “leaders”, “the best”, etc. Very little interactions happened between companies and their customers, which can now change due to social media. Companies now have the ability to have conversations with customers or prospects and even though some of them are doing it, we found this conversation on Twitter which brings up a very good point: is that the rule or the exception?

What do you think? Are companies still broadcasting, except that they now use social media channels? How many of the companies you deal with or buy from are still broadcasting vs those who are actually using social media to create conversations with you?


Tesla Broadcast Tower 1904

Tesla Broadcast Tower 1904

How do you separate fact and fiction on-line?

The hacking of the Associated Press Twitter account and the tweet “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured,” reminded us once again that much of the information we can find on-line isn’t always reliable.

In this TED video, Markham Nolan, managing editor of, explains how he and his team verify on-line information.

How do you verify the information you find on-line? Do you follow sources (e.g.: people, websites, etc.) which you trust so much that you don’t verify the information that they share? Do you sometimes double check by looking at several similar sources (for instance, the attack on the White House was not mentioned by any other news agency)?

What about the information that you use at work or in business? Do you verify it before making decisions based on it?

Internet map 1024 - transparent