Few technology gadget makers have done as good a job at moving the industry forward than Apple. ‘Out with the old, in with the new‘ seems to be the mantra emanating from Cupertino since back in the early 1980s.
Does Apple actively plan to make specific technologies obsolete? Yes. That’s the nature of progress. Does Apple actively build products with planned obsolescence in mind? Again, yes. Is that a bad thing? Industry watchdog SumOfUs and 150,000 people think Apple should stop with the so-called planned obsolescence already.
The Upgrade Mill
As of this writing, somewhere near 90-percent of all iOS devices on planet earth– iPhones and iPads– are running with a version of iOS 9.x; Apple’s latest because Apple makes the latest versions free and easy to upgrade and install.
What does SumOfUs say about that process?
Apple has been sabotaging devices for years with software “upgrades” that slow every iPhone and iPad except the very latest model. It’s a strategy called planned obsolescence, and its one of the ways that Apple and other gadget makers are getting so filthy rich while the planet and everyone else pays.
Screed aside, planned obsolescence is the nature of progress, but in this case Apple isn’t doing anything to a customer who does not want a device to be impacted by future upgrades that cannot easily be prevented, which renders the planned obsolescence argument moot.
Just don’t upgrade to the latest OS. Even SumOfUs agrees.
iOS 10 will be released in just a few months time. Anyone with a perfectly functional iPhone or iPad bought two years ago would do well to ignore the prompts to “Install Now”. But Apple will be pushing upgrade notices to millions of those customers anyway, because every frustrated user with a sluggish device is another sales prospect.
I have a few decades of technology experience under my belt, including the purchase and use of about everything Apple makes, and not once in all those years has Apple pushed an upgrade onto one of my devices without my permission (not counting some security updates that happen in the background; we’re talking full-fledged major annual upgrades here).
Push is the wrong term. I prefer ‘make available’ and I’m given the choice to succumb to the hype of a new iOS or OS X version or to keep what I have already and for as long as the device lasts. I’m not under any obligation to upgrade to a major new version of anything. I have that choice. Apple gives me that choice.
That said, SumOfUs has an argument that should be considered.
The company simply has to stop aggressively pushing software “upgrades” to devices which will become significantly slower as a result. And “downgrades” need to be possible without computer hacking skills, so iPhone and iPad users can always get back to the way things were before if needed.
Apple does not push upgrades to major versions. It’s a choice each device owner has and many choose to keep what they have which only becomes obsolete when it can no longer be used. Apple is not under any requirement to provide future operating system versions which will run on older technology. Otherwise, we would have Windows XP running on everything Apple makes.
Planned obsolescence is a necessity in technology. Deal with it. But exercise some degree of discipline and caution, and if you have an older device do not expect it to run exactly like a new device with a new operating system. The world doesn’t work that way. To the SumOfUs supporters, I say, ‘Get over it.‘
Still, Apple can and should make it easier for customers to downgrade their products to a previous version of iOS or OS X if they’re not satisfied with the performance of an upgrade. It’s not easy to downgrade. It should be.