The fact is this. Whatever you bought last year– Mac, iPhone, iPad, e al– works better this year, and it’s likely to receive improvements next year and the year after, despite Apple’s not-quite-annual-upgrades. How is that possible? When does your Mac really become obsolete?
Apple has a definition for obsolete that may not agree with your definition and one that definitely doesn’t agree with critics who decry annual model upgrades. Even obsolescence itself does not agree with other definitions of what we consider obsolete.
the process of becoming obsolete or outdated and no longer used: computers are infamous for their rapid obsolescence | gunpowder brought about the obsolescence of many weapons.
‘Outdated and no longer used‘ should pop out at any Apple customer. Think about this scenario. You bought a new MacBook Pro last year. This year Apple introduced a new MacBook Pro. Is your older model outdated? Yes. Obsolete? No. In fact, I can argue that your MacBook Pro from 2015 runs better in 2016 than it did new, thanks to app upgrades and macOS Sierra.
Let’s look at another definition for Obsolesence.
Obsolescence is the state of being which occurs when an object, service, or practice is no longer wanted even though it may still be in good working order. Obsolescence frequently occurs because a replacement has become available that has, in sum, more advantages compared to the disadvantages incurred by maintaining or repairing the original. Obsolete refers to something that is already disused or discarded, or antiquated. Typically, obsolescence is preceded by a gradual decline in popularity.
That’s not the same as the dictionary definition which isn’t the same as what critics think whenever a tech company introduces a new product to replace an older product. The older product probably still works, and in the case of the Mac, iPhone, and iPad, probably works better than the original thanks to software upgrades. In other words, a product from a few years ago works better than it did when new.
When does your Mac become obsolete?
Apple has a distinct definition and it applies it to specific Macs of yesteryear on the Vintage And Obsolete Products list. There are lots of Apple products on that list.
Owners of iPhone, iPad, iPod, or Mac products may obtain service and parts from Apple or Apple service providers for 5 years after the product is no longer manufactured—or longer where required by law. Apple has discontinued support for certain technologically obsolete and vintage products.
Uh oh. Does that mean a Mac older than five years but still in good working order is obsolete? Yes. But if it still works and has been upgraded to more recent versions of macOS, then it’s likely performing as well if not better (but maybe not faster) than it did when original.
Even Apple defines vintage and obsolete differently. Obsolete products were discontinued more than seven years ago, while vintage products are those that have not be manufactured for more than five years but less than seven years ago (and there are exceptions).
A Mac does not become obsolete when a new Mac model is introduced. A Mac is obsolete seven years after it was discontinued, which is likely a year or two (or, in the case of a Mac Pro, three years) after it was introduced, which gives many Mac models a six to 10 year lifespan. And even then, it simply means replacement parts may not be available from Apple itself.
There’s another definition for obsolete, and one I’ve used many times. A Mac becomes obsolete immediately when Apple introduces a new model that I want.