I wrote a piece a couple of weeks ago exploring how technology manufacturers from across a wide range of categories are looking to encourage upgrade behavior and thus emulate the shorter ownership cycles of mobile phones and computers.
The hope (on their part) is that we will be locked into a constant upgrade cycle with a form of planned obsolescence increasingly the norm. This certainly seems to be the case given the ever-decreasing life cycles of tech products (Droid over after 8 months!). However, it could come at a high cost in the long run given the frustration that it causes consumers: I’ve recently seen evidence in research groups to suggest that the fear of obsolescence is creating purchase paralysis as consumers hold out for the next big thing (hands up if you’re waiting for a webcam before you consider an iPad).
The notion of technology heirlooms is not a new one, Leica has proudly claimed that its products are built to last a lifetime…for longer than a lifetime. And there is a growing movement within the design world to popularize the idea of technology heirlooms.
Even the larger tech brands are not immune to exploring the ‘built to last’ territory; take this rather quaint Sony Press ad which promises that their cassette deck will be something you leave to your great-grandson…I guess you might if you wanted to really confuse him.