iPhone 4S Disappoints, Underscores Apple's Planned Obsolescence Strategy


Screengrab via Gizmodo video

The iPhone 4S. Apple's latest. Everyone who cares about gadgets was waiting on pins and needles to hear about the release of the the latest, newest, ooooooh-est iPhone from Apple. And nearly everyone was disappointed by what was actually released. If anything, the iPhone 4S is proof, yet again, that Apple could give a _ _ _ _ about the environment in the larger scheme of things. iPhone 4S Disappoints With Old Design, Few New Features
The iPhone 4S was a let-down for many. It has a faster chip, better camera and voice activated personal assistant software. And that's pretty much it. Essentially, there's nothing else new about it. And even these elements are things that could have been held off until an iteration of the iPhone with enough significant changes to warrant the release of a truly new model was developed.

The Register notes, "Apple has always made up for technical caution with overwhelming style and awesome design, but the 4S takes its design from its predecessor and the technology it's using is going to date quickly."

In reality, Apple just wanted something to announce, a new product that would have consumers racing to upgrade, racing to hand money over to Apple, racing -- unfortunately -- to ditch the old for the new.

The Impact of Apple iPhone Announcements
In the days leading up to the announcement, I received emails from several resell companies with their anticipation of what would happen after the announcement. Resell companies are eager to get their name out there, knowing that with each new announcement from Apple, there will be a flood of "old" phones needing new homes as people "upgrade."

From Recellular,
"Anticipation and speculation has peaked this week with the release of Apple's invitation to discuss the future of its iPhone. Consumers are now buying new cell phones as frequently as every 15 months. According to Gartner, the worldwide market for smart phones alone grew nearly 80 percent year over year in the first quarter of 2011. The firm predicts some 500 million smart phones will be sold in 2012. Astonishingly, less than 10 percent recycle their old handsets, according to market research firm iSupply."

ReCellular, which processes 400,000 cell phones a month, announced its willingness to buy an iPhone 4G 32GB for up to $300, depending on its condition, keeping these barely used phones in the consumer stream where they belong (and to some degree helping to keep demand for the latest model lower).

From BuyMyTronics, "We were getting ready for the announcement, trying to tell the world that BuyMyTronics was a good place to sell old iPhones. It turns out that consumers are listening and very savvy. We've seen an fivefold uptick in the number of iPhones being turned in the week leading up to tomorrow's Apple news conference. We think this is easily the most anticipated release since the original iPhone."

Most anticipated or not, it failed to deliver.

iPhone 4S and Apple's Planned Obsolescence
CNet writes, "Investors were put off yesterday by Apple's underwhelming iPhone news. Today we'll see if their overall infatuation with Apple kicks back into gear. Shares slumped yesterday following the unveiling of the iPhone 4S--there had been widespread and fervent expectation of an "iPhone 5"--but intraday trading showed things could have been worse."

Had it been an iPhone 5 but with the same features, would shares have slumped? Or more importantly, would Apple have even released it?

That is the real question.

With all its talk for greening itself up or being the greenest electronics company on the block (and the company has made some important, applause-worthy moves), Apple seriously fails in the department of planned obsolescence. The sad tale of the iPhone 4S is proof.

Why bring out a new product that's so ho-hum in its "improvements" that it can't even get its own new shiny number? Just because it's, oh, about that time of year again? Because they needed a bump in sales?

I'm an Apple user. I love the products. They work, work well, and are usually far and away more sleek, useful, and hardy than competition. But I have a big beef with the company that makes these products I enjoy using when it insists on coming out with new products that are not a significant improvement over the last model. It is a move that boils down to taking advantage of customer loyalty and consumer buzz in order to make more profits. In the mean time, it strips the planet of raw materials, pollutes the environment during manufacture and use, and causes yet-untold levels of pollution thanks to the mass of consumers who fail to recycle what they were using in the rush to switch to the newest model.

No, I was not going to write about Apple's announcement yesterday. And the company proved it didn't earn the space. But it did earn a rant from me today, after the dust settled and, hopefully, the reality of planned obscene by the company is so blatantly apparent that customers with a mind for the environment just shake their heads in disappointment. I did, at least.

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More on Planned Obsolescence
Planned Obsolescence vs. Designed Deterioration
Apple iPad 2 Comes In Black and White, But Not Green

Tags: Apple Inc | Cell Phones | Corporate Responsibility | Electronics | Gadgets | iPhone

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