Why the desire to upgrade tech yearly?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by dukebound85, Oct 3, 2015.

  1. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    I was reading articles on how many people feel the need to upgrade yearly when by most accounts, this is done out of sheer want and nothing else as past iterations tend to work just as well. Additionally, this upgrade mentality is most prevalent in the tech industry and notably cell phones. Why is is that people routinely get the latest when the "core functionality" does not really every change?

    Why is this upgrade mentality not as pervasive in other sectors, such as cars, appliances, tv's, and other gadgets? Is the phone industry just that good at making people feel their latest offering is a must have and that their last gen is suddenly useless? year after year.

    What does it say about our mindset?

    I admit I get upgrade envy bad with every new tech release but I will also say, that once I had all my school and other debt paid off, my mindset flipped a switch where I am in a wealth accumulation mode. Back when I had massive debt and no savings was when I was most foolish and did upgrade often. The urge is still there for sure. How do you handle it? I will say that having not bought a new phone since 2010 (iPhone 4) and used craigslist ones since (a 4s when the 5s came out and a cheap 5s when the 6 came, as well as a 2008 map I am using now), the initial want to have the latest goes away after a bit and then I try to think how long I can actually use old devices until the core functionality isn't there.

    I am curious to how you handle the upgrade wanting.....do you give in and do it anyways or are you able to resist? and why is is predominantly only phones?
  2. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    I don't think it's any different than what it used to be in cars, say in the years before the 70's or 80's. The model-year changes were mostly cosmetic from year to year, and a significant change only appeared every few years. Still, that didn't make past models obsolete, it just made them less fashionable. And I think that's what it all boils down to: fashion. That is, how you appear (or wish to appear) to other people.

    These days, the average person's car turnover rate is probably quite a bit lower, but there are still people who insist on having the latest model, or being at most 2 years behind. It may be more likely to be a lease than a purchase, but those people still exist in the car world.
  3. JamesMike macrumors demi-god


    Nov 3, 2014
  4. dukebound85 thread starter macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    Yea, I was reading that exact thing as well. Overtime, I imagine we see phones have shelf life on par with current computers in regards to main usage
  5. localoid macrumors 68020


    Feb 20, 2007
    America's Third World
    Because we've spend decades training the masses to be good consumers via a learning process an indoctrination process that begins shortly after birth...

  6. SHNXX macrumors 68000

    Oct 2, 2013
    You use the iPhone for 12 hours per day and people who work in tech should be able to justify a dollar per day for something like the iPhone.
  7. Gregg2 macrumors 603

    May 22, 2008
    Milwaukee, WI
    I don't get the urge. I have an 8 year old Mac Mini that still is running on Snow Leopard. I'll soon be replacing it, either by choice or when compelled to if it dies. I have a dumb phone, the second cell phone I've ever owned. As for most of the other items listed, they cost more. But I do know people who trade in their cars right after they pay off their loan. I don't take out a loan. I keep the car for a decade, and make a "car payment" to myself. Then when the car starts to cost too much to maintain, I have the cash to replace it with a new one. So as to why other people have this upgrade obsession, I don't have a clue.
  8. 0007776 Suspended


    Jul 11, 2006
    Those things are much more expensive than phones, and at least with cars you do see some really rich people that want to upgrade every year. Most people can't afford it so they don't consider it. I think as people start to see the full price of the phone with contracts going away it might start to slow down the pace of upgrades. Or the fact that most carriers will let them trade it in after a year might just lead to more upgrading.
  9. Roller macrumors 68030

    Jun 25, 2003
    Technology progresses at different rates. For example, appliances tend to have a longer useful life, with the need to replace them mostly driven by part failures and the lack of availability of replacements. Phones, on the other hand, progress much more rapidly from year to year as vendors add enough new or improved features to attract buyers. In many cases, however, the benefits of upgrading are clear, as when I got my iPhone 6 Plus, and Apple's and carriers' upgrade programs make it easier than ever for people to get a new device each year. Computers are somewhere in between. I'm not aware of anyone who gets a new Mac or laptop with every update, but eventually, the benefits of faster processors and other improvements make upgrading worthwhile.

    I'm sure there are people who upgrade their devices just because they can, but for most people, it makes sense to decide whether each update makes sense in terms of what they do and how much they can afford.
  10. Scepticalscribe macrumors Westmere


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Re computers, I upgrade shortly before my Applecare is due to expire, so my computers tend to have a life of a little under three years. I still have a 'dumb' phone (a Nokia that is well over ten years old), although someday I can see that I may have to consider switching to a 'smart' phone as well.

    To @dukebound85, I think that the issue is partly as @localoid - quoted below - has expressed it: Our economies and many of our cultural values are based on a deeply-rooted consumerism, a consumerism that must be kept in a state of frustrated unhappiness in order to be persuaded to continue buying, all of which is reinforced by a vast marketing and media presence.

    The second aspect of that is these days a surprising people define their identity - or their sense of themselves - in terms of the tech they can afford and be seen to use.

    As @chown33 has already pointed out, consumer durables as a means of defining or reinforcing one's personal identity used to take other forms in recent decades: Car ownership, for example, was a means whereby a great many males defined who they thought they were, or, who they thought they wished to be seen as.
  11. AlliFlowers Contributor


    Jan 1, 2011
    L.A. (Lower Alabama)
    Mr. Snaffelburger says it best: Conform, Consume, Obey!

    I think more people would upgrade cars and computers as often as cell phones if they could afford to. Cell phones tend to have the most modest price break of the three. I've gotten better, and only update my iPhone alternate years (I like the S versions). But I still "upgrade" my car on average every 4 years, much to the chagrin of my husband who drives a car until the doors fall off.
  12. nrvna76 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 4, 2010
    Why is this always considered a bad thing? Upgrading frequently does not always cost as much as some think... I can upgrade my phone yearly for close to the cost of every other year.. About 150 more per year. I can lease a 31k car for about 250 for 3 years, or finance it for about 550 for 5 years. So over a 9 year period financing turns out to be about 305 per month. You'd still have some value at the end but for a lease you have less maintenance and wear and tear to worry about. These are all rough numbers and aren't exact, just saying it isn't a cut and dry as people like to make it seem.
  13. Apple fanboy macrumors Nehalem

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    I only upgrade my phone/car/computer when I could afford to. Never through a lease or contract.
    My phone gets upgraded every other year. Why? Because I can afford to and I want to. I spend very little on myself other than iPhones and photography equipment. But my bank account is bigger each month, so I guess I must be doing something right.
  14. garirry macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2013
    Canada is my city
    Exactly. Everyone's brainwashed, that's it. I only buy upgrades when they stop working or become unusable. Everyone who buys something new every year either is just rich (fine) or they are like "OH MAH GAWD THE NEW IPHONE CAME OUT I NEED TO BUY ONE ON LAUNCH DAY BECAUSE ALL MY FRIENDS ARE THE SAME!!!1!!1!11" (not fine).
  15. mobilehaathi macrumors G3


    Aug 19, 2008
    The Anthropocene
  16. Huntn macrumors P6


    May 5, 2008
    The Misty Mountains
    I only upgrade when a current piece of tech breaks or can no longer do the job as compared to the external tech it's interacting with. As a gamer, I frequently feel this pressure. Just upgraded my PC video graphics from a GTX760 to a GTX970 because the old card was starting to drag with newer games. I can justify this because it's my primary tech vice besides my MacBookPro, iPhone and iPad which I am in no hurry to upgrade as long as they can do the job.
  17. sdilley14 macrumors 65816

    Feb 8, 2007
    Mesa, AZ
    I upgrade phones approximately every 18-24 months, computers every 36 months or so, TV every 36-48 months. Those are the major tech items I turn over. I like to sell things while they still have value and use the funds to offset (and sometimes completely cover) the purchase of the new item. I realize that more often than not I'm "losing" financially on these deals, but I don't really care. Some people blow their money traveling, some people collect comic books/guitars/shoes/etc., some people have children and unemployed spouses to pay for, and some people buy > enjoy > sell tech items. It's the same reason some people change partners every so often - boredom sets in with what they have and something new and pretty catches their eye.
  18. bunnspecial, Oct 7, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2015

    bunnspecial macrumors 604


    May 3, 2014
    I'm on my 3rd iPhone in 5 years. My previous two were replaced primarily due to simple wear and tear-my 3gs needed a new battery(after 2 years) and the lock/power button on my 4s didn't work after 3 years. In both cases, upgrading to the then-current model made as much sense to me as repairing the old one.

    As far as computers go-I am using a Mac Pro 1,1(2006) on a daily basis. I've upgraded pretty much everything on it that can be upgraded, including the GPU, upping it to 16gb of RAM, and adding an SSD. This computer is theoretically capable of running every version of OS X every publicly released for Intel processors-it currently dual boots Snow Leopard and Mavericks(I might need to downgrade the GPU if I were so inclined to run Tiger or Leopard) but is mostly used in Mavericks. It could be upgraded to El Capitan without too much trouble.

    Most recently, I doubled the number of cores by replacing the two original dual core processors with quad core processors. Since I kept the clock speed the same and used processors of the same basic architecture, the main performance improvement is in heavily multi-threaded apps.

    In any case, I don't see any pressing need to upgrade this computer.

    Similarly, I don't like the current direction of Apple laptops, so the mid-2012 15" Classic MBP I have will likely be the last I buy for a LONG time. For that matter, although it's pretty beat up and on paper is not very good, my early '08 MBP could do everything I needed it to just fine. The biggest issue with it is weight(which isn't THAT bad) and battery life(aftermarket batteries).
  19. Savor Suspended


    Jun 18, 2010
    Stimulates economy.

    I stopped caring until this year. From 2004-2014, I had a decade of that smartphone tech itch. Now I barely check tech sites daily to create that desire I don't need. We live in the OVERKILL feature era right now where QHD and UHD is probably not needed for most. Maybe in a few years, more people will stop caring to upgrade and realize what a waste of money and time it truly is.

    But for now, consumers are under the mercy of contracts and alot of people like the habit of selling their phones online a few months later at a loss. Throwing away money in the trash like Victor Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street if you ask me. I went back to being a movie buff and downloading from torrent apps. I don't lose money re-downloading movies I already owned and gain savings from many others I didn't buy. Win-win. Cheaper than buying a video game console since content is free. If not, I read a book or listen to some songs. Collecting phones when most are built for obsolescence is a losing premise each time. Like drugs without the bad side effects. At least a film or literature can remain relevant for decades. Phone collecting is still a better hobby than drugs and gambling but still a waste to get a temporary high.
  20. Sekelani macrumors 6502


    May 26, 2012
    1) because I can
    2) having the latest and greatest is one one my weaknesses
    3) I love apple products
  21. Crusoe macrumors regular

    Feb 6, 2014
    And the landfill sites fill up, and the resources used in the production of these devices continue being consumed unnecessarily, and money is spent without there being really, basically, a need. I have an iPhone 6 because I like how it looks and works, but fundamentally there's very little functionally it does that I really need that I couldn't do on my old Nokia E50.
  22. Mac'nCheese Suspended


    Feb 9, 2010
    As long as AT&T offers subsidized prices for new iPhones, I will upgrade. Selling my year old phone and buying the new one is a wash (I take my wife's upgrade every other year). Can't do that with a computer, ipad, car, etc
  23. Josh125 macrumors 6502


    Apr 28, 2008
    Katy, TX
    I like new shiny things, plain and simple. The phone is the only thing I upgrade annually though.
  24. decafjava macrumors 68030


    Feb 7, 2011
    Well I am on my 3rd iPhone (a 6) I got last year but bought outright in order to escape being chained to a phone contract for two years, which is how often I've got a new phone. End of this month I finally can get a new, hopefully cheaper contract. I might get the 7 next year but the only thing that grabbed my attention this was 3D touch. Not enought to upgrade.

    What might "force" my hand, and there's the rub, is if more third party developers implement touch 3D in their apps and it becomes something really useful.
  25. senseless macrumors 68000


    Apr 23, 2008
    Pennsylvania, USA
    TV's are good for 10 years, really. Computers 6 years, phones probably only 3 years since it's a relatively new product and all the features aren't developed yet. Or maybe it's planned obsolescence?

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39 October 3, 2015