The next couple of days are jam packed here at OBX Thinking's global command center, so rather than letting the blog lay idle for a couple of days I'll be reposting content from a few years ago. Today, we revisit the evolution of obsolescence.
In the 1950s designer Brooks Stevens coined the term "Planned Obsolescence" to describe the fundamental underpinning of our burgeoning consumer economy. Companies were deliberately designing their products in such a way that within a few years – thanks to ephemeral style, technology or performance – people would be forced to buy new stuff on a regular basis.
My, how things have changed.
We've gone from a time when companies felt they had to design obsolescence into their products in order to guarantee future sales, to one where global competition is so intense that people are afraid to buy the latest computer, cell phone, car or fashion item for fear that it will be out of date by the time they get it home.
We're living in the era of "Forced Obsolescence." No one has the luxury of allowing products to become obsolete on their own timetable. The competition will do that for you.
If this had been the '50s, Apple would have launched the iPad and milked that platform for a few years before making significant investments in changing it. Instead they knew that competitors would quickly enter the marketplace and the iPad 2 was launched with more features, more functionality and an improved design for the same price less than a year later.
Apple knows, and hopefully your company does too, that today you have to eat your own young before the competition does it for you.