Monday, November 3, 2008

Built-in obsolescence

Those wonderful market forces demand that we have to replace all electronic devices in our lives every few years to keep up with the accelerating gallop of technical development. This sad fact was once again made clear to me when I tried to find a replacement cartridge for our trusty old printer. It has worked flawlessly now for about 8-9 years and is still going strong. However I've now discovered that the print cartridge for it isn't in stock any more and as a result we'll have to dump the printer. What's more, a new printer costs about the same price as the cartridge would have cost had it still been available! So it's time to buy a new printer and reckon on it lasting a handfull of years at most.
Imagine now a world where we buy devices that can be upgraded over the net. The hardware is built to last (give me chrome fenders and leather upholstery!) and you pay to download all the upgrades you may need over the years. I admit it's tricky to download printing ink but I really hate to take perfectly functioning machines to the rubbish dump. What about the IT industry doing its bit for the environment and working towards net-based solutions rather than this hysterical production of billions of devices to replace the ones produced only last year. Just visit any major electronics store to see the overwhelming range of products these days.
Maybe a revamp of the old thin client principle with all the applications available on the net rather than sitting on your bulging hard-disc. Many are working in this direction so we can hope for more sanity in the future.
Farewell then old printer, let's hope we can be a bit smarter in the future.

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