All iPads Are Apple products subject to planned obsolescence?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by PhiladelphiaX, Nov 17, 2012.

  1. PhiladelphiaX macrumors member

    Nov 15, 2012
    Earlier I was thinking to myself how impressive it was that I've had some of my Apple products for as long as I have. I've had my iPod classic for over 5 years now and it's working like brand new.

    My question is, are Apple products subject to planned obsolescence? That is to say, are Apple products built to eventually become defunct? Or are they build to last for incredibly long periods of time (decades)?

    For example, if someone buys an iPhone today or an iPad, or even a rMBP/MBA/iMac, how long can they expect these products to last for? 5 years each? 10? 20?

    Have any of you guys had any experiences with your devices just suddenly going defunct (excluding accidental damages)?
  2. businezguy macrumors 6502

    Jun 23, 2003
    I think Apple mainly builds products that last. I would expect something like the iPad I just purchased to last a good solid 5 years or more assuming there isn't an unintended defect.

    However, the definition of obsolescense is not how long a product will continue to function, but how long it will continue to do what you need to do and perform those tasks to the standards you require. That is my definition, at least. So if Apple comes out with new releases of IOS that have new functions I want/need, and yet my iPad is not able to update to that version, my iPad could very well be considered obsolete even though it still functions for me.

    There is no doubt Apple is still an innovative company who can successfully produce new devices/computers that will tempt the massed to purchase them even though their current device/computer is still functioning perfectly fine. That is a huge contrast compared to a company like Microsoft, for instance.
  3. flopticalcube macrumors G4


    Sep 7, 2006
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    Physically, the products are solid and will last a long time. As more and more software moves towards a service-based approach (iCloud) however, I can see useful lifespans shortening. If your device has a maximum OS version that is no longer supported by the cloud-based service, it doesn't really matter how well built it is physically.
  4. Bakari45 macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2010
    One way they seem to make the hardware products become defunct is by releasing operating system updates that don't support earlier models of hardware. In less than two years, for example, the iPad 1 no longer is supported by Apple. They seem to also holdback features that clearly could've been put into previous model, just so they can sell the next version seven months later.
  5. ditzy macrumors 68000


    Sep 28, 2007
    Apple do try and make it so you upgrade to their next product. So the new product will normally do more than the last one. So in a way yes they do. However in general their products are well made, and the product you bought, will do at least as much as it could on the day you bought it, if not more, when you decide to replace it.
  6. vistadude macrumors 65816

    Jan 3, 2010
    Apple ipads are held together by glue, I doubt they are made to last a long time.
  7. anonymous guy macrumors 6502a

    Mar 18, 2010
    There is some deliberate planned obsolescence on the software front. For instance, the iPad Mini is a down scaled iPad 2 in terms of specifications, but certain features are intentionally held back to entice users to buy a newer product. I wouldn't be surprised if the iPad mini gets longer iOS upgrade support over the iPad 2 as well.
  8. iknows macrumors newbie

    Nov 5, 2012
    I agree, you have people complaining about Siri being on the iPad mini but not on iPad 2. I just loved those iOS software upgrades I did when I had an iPhone 3, and an iPhone 4. Making the iPhone more slower, less features, etc. Even now with iOS 6, no turn by turn on the iPhone 4, but if you jailbreak "viola" you can get turn by turn.

    Apple plans these things nice and tidy. Steve Jobs once said "If you always want the latest and greatest, then you have to buy a new iPod at least once a year." That is the philosophy of Apple and people who do buy there products should understand that next year is a different story. Or as in the case of the iPad 3 and 4, you have to buy two products once a year.
  9. LizKat macrumors 68040


    Aug 5, 2004
    Catskill Mountains
    Just have to laugh sometimes, really. There's glue, and then there's glue.

    I have an ol' beatup desk that's been in my family since 1880s, and it's partly held together with glue too. "Still going!"

    More on topic: The laptops I've had seem to last at least five years, sometimes 10 although they get lighter duty as they age out and become spares, backups, single-purpose machines etc. The iPods mostly seem to last forever at least the flash-based ones.

    I have one iPod touch, a 1st gen model, that may be getting on towards failing now, I am not sure. Sometimes when I listen to an audiobook on it, the audio output quality seems just rougher once in awhile, for maybe 30 seconds or so. Too lazy to check out same passage of same book on newer 'pod. Anyway the thing has been put through its paces getting daily use for years now so I got my money's worth and then some out of it already.

    As others have noted, it's more about how Apple at some point cannot in all practicality bring along older hardware to use the latest and greatest software. I think I cannot read iBooks on my 1st gen iPod touch. I couldn't surf the net very well on some ol G3 ibook that I was using to serve kitchen recipes for awhile. The newer webpage content had just got to be too much for the machine to handle.
  10. 1rottenapple macrumors 68000

    Apr 21, 2004
    If you don't have the itch to upgrade then yeah it last! I have an MBA 11, 2010. This is my longest laptop since my gadget obsession turned from macs and iPods to iPhones. I don't plan on upgrading my MBA. People like me and others either give away their perfectly good iPhones and sell them or give them away to make room for another iPhone. None of my iPhones have ever broken or stop working. I just sold them or have them away. Same wth all of my iMacs, MacBooks, iBook, MacBook Pro. MacBook Air. Either sold or given away. I expect my current MBA to last me another three years before I will upgrade. I just don't have the need to minus wanting more space with the 128gig hd.
  11. smiddlehurst macrumors 65816

    Jun 5, 2007

    Right, that's better. Sorry but I really hate this way of thinking. Yes, the iPad 1 (in this case) is no longer getting iOS updates. That doesn't make it an obsolete device. It still works perfectly well for many people and if you don't have a need for the functionality (and apps) that are supported only in iOS updates then it will keep working as long as the hardware lasts. As for holding back features: buy a device based on what it has, not what you want to be added later. Anything new should be considered a bonus.

    To the OP: Apple builds its products very well and has a solid support network in place in the form of its Apple stores and on-line / phone services. There are some lemons of course, that's pretty much inevitable in any product line, but they're pretty good at taking care of them (speaks the weary voice of long experience ;) ). They go to reasonable lengths to support their hardware with new OS upgrades and are pretty good at not screwing over the customer. In the mobile phone market they're probably the ONLY manufacturer that really supports their hardware properly, largely because they're just about the only manufacturer that considers you to be their customer, rather than selling to a carrier / network. By and large if you're happy with the performance, storage etc of a device when you buy it you'll probably get a good few years use out of it.

    The major stumbling blocks however are, in some sort of rough order:

    1) Battery life. The bane of mobile devices since some bright spark first put a handle on a monitor, welded the guts of a PC to it and called it a 'portable'. Batteries only have a limited lifespan before they can no longer hold a worthwhile charge. For laptops Apple do a replacement service, for portable devices... well you're probably better off upgrading when the battery dies on you.

    2) New features / hardware. In the traditional computer market this isn't a huge problem any more. It's a mature market and even a basic Macbook Air has enough computing power inside for most users. In the mobile markets though we're still early in the arms race and you can expect raw computing power to take big jumps in the next few years (as well as other changes such as screen and battery tech). Just compare the performance and size of the iPhone 5 to the iPhone 4 and you'll see what I mean. Technically it doesn't affect your device if new ones are better but the difference is so big it can be hard to resist.

    3) The Internet! Web sites are getting more complicated, new services come and go, old ones change or have new demands for access as time goes by. Ultimately this is another young tech that's changing quickly and it's entirely possible that, say, all tablets that are on sale right now will be unable to access some web sites in a few years time because of performance issues, a new development standard, a new plugin (god no!) etc etc.
  12. spork183 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2006
    I concur. It is planned software obsolescence, not build quality. That said, I just read Popular Mechanic's issue with forecasts for the next 50 years. They looked back at their forecasts in the past. "In the future, computers will weigh no more than 1.5 tons." 1947
  13. fertilized-egg macrumors 68020

    Dec 18, 2009
    I think we're really just discussing semantics here. Obviously Apple is trying to encourage the consumers to buy the latest hardware but at the same time they do try to do a fairly good job of supporting the existing hardware so that the consumers using them will come back to Apple products.

    On the other hand supporting the old hardware isn't free, especially when you think about how much optimization and testing old hardware will often require and how much resources that'll take.

    Even Google, who doesn't make money off hardware, gave up on updating their Nexus phones after two years or less. That should tell us that supporting old hardware isn't strictly about selling new hardware.
  14. xVeinx macrumors 6502

    Oct 9, 2006
    This is an interesting question. My roommate has had Macs for many years, and they last 5 years or so before they finally give up the ghost. It seems to me that both Macs and iPhones have a fairly long lifespan, even with software figured in. iCloud support is being increasingly integrated into everything, but I wonder if there is a practical limit to this. Dunno. On the other hand, my ipad may not have the length of time afforded other products in terms of software updates. As long as I can continue reading books and using safari however, that shouldn't be a huge issues. iPads are great, and can do a lot. Apart from adding memory and better processors however, I'm curious what will drive them in the future. You can integrate the kitchen sink into them, but what does that accomplish in the end?
  15. Rodster macrumors 68040

    May 15, 2007
  16. Switchback666 macrumors 68000


    Nov 16, 2012
    I say at these point its all about the OS/software; my main gripe with the iphone 5 is how it packs such awesome specs yet my 4s handles iOS the same way.

    I say focus on iOS 7 apple ! Skip the 5s if you want !
  17. FiremanMike macrumors regular

    Jan 26, 2011
    One of my buddies at the firehouse still rocks his iPhone 3gs that sees a ton of use and abuse. I have an iPod classic an a 5th gen iPod that, save respectively dead batteries, still work like they did day 1.

    Apple has a pretty extensive history of making products that last.
  18. ixodes macrumors 601


    Jan 11, 2012
    Pacific Coast, USA
    Apple hardware & software are both designed with end of life time spans (obsolescence) built in. It's not talked about so many have no clue that it exists. Nor is the hardware designed to "fall apart" at some interval.

    However for those who pay attention you'll notice that without an OS being supported, the hardware's useless to those who "must have" the latest. A line of thinking Apple promotes. All one has to do is read the zealot like attacks on the people that prefer to stay with an "old" version of OS X like Snow Leopard, and you'll see the results of Apples domination & influence over their users.

    It's a dictatorial Eco-System, with Apple calling the shots.
  19. spork183 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2006
    Hey Mike, swap out those batteries and you got a new ipod. I stalled for a long time, then got around to it and found my new batteries were better than when the ipod was new.
  20. ob81 macrumors 65816


    Jun 11, 2007
    Virginia Beach
    They weren't always like that

    I swear they were known for how well they supported their older products at one point. I had a 12" PowerBook that was timeless until the went to the intel chip. From there, things got a little weird.
  21. Ladybug macrumors 65832


    Apr 13, 2006
    After I updated my old iPad 1 to iOS 5 it never ran the same again. It is much slower and Safari crashes all the time. Do I think Apple did this on purpose, not really. Which is why when I got my iPad 3 I never updated it, not even once. It still runs as fast as it did when I first got it. I plan to sell it as is, next owner can update if they want. My Mini will get no updates either unless its totally necessary. I'd rather have a fast smooth running device than new features. I think 3 yrs. is long enough for updates on these devices, by then its time for me to upgrade.
  22. boomhower macrumors 68000


    Oct 21, 2011
    With non use replaceable batteries I vote yes.
  23. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    Exactly. So my answer to the OP's question is that I think so.
  24. 1rottenapple macrumors 68000

    Apr 21, 2004
    With harddrive models I can see them failing but these solid state drives are pretty sweet. I don't see my air failing unless I drop it or something.


    I think if y


    I think if you post on the forums, your gonna care about getting updates and the best up to date experience. But hell give you phone to grandma and they'll be perfectly happy.

    Hell I have a ton of friends who don't update iOS. It's only now that apple has the OTA update that they do so cause its simple. But the thought of connecting their iPhones to their computer was too far complicated. Were they happy with their iphones? **** yeah. Irregardless of the latest iOS. Even my parents iphone, I used to update them manually but now they do it with OTA. I was the only one running up to date software. Would they update it before, nope. Us nerd, and I say that warmly, want the latest greatest and we create planned obsolescence by the need to alway update. I wonder if the days of keeping appliances are long gone. I remember growing up and my parents VCR lasted forever, 10 yrs. now we have DVDs, then blue rays. Now we have to get a roku or Apple TV to make DVDs obsolete, and blue-rays more "inconvenient" since streaming is another frontier. Is DVD obsolete, nope. Still looks good IMHO but hey we create these weird dilemmas of always buying.


    I'm gonna try to plan to keep my iPhone 5 at least for 3 yrs to 4. Maybe ill take my gadget obsession and get the latest and greatest ipad mini instead of the latest and greatest iPhones.
  25. FiremanMike macrumors regular

    Jan 26, 2011
    Actually they're only dead because they've not been charged in years. I could probably plug them in and get some use out of them.

    But I may look into that if necessary, can I still take them to apple to be replaced or do they not support those anymore?


    I think you're sensationalizing a bit here. Without "software support", devices wouldn't get updates. This doesn't mean that the software on the device implodes and becomes inactive, as a matter of fact it'll still work just fine.

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