The iPhone 11 & Perceived Obsolescence

I enjoy tech but I’m the kind of guy that only really looks into a product if I’m in the market to buy something, especially so over the last nine months of the shopping ban, an item has to be broken for me to be able to replace it.

I watch very little TV to see any advertising, social is kept to a short time frame daily and my web browsing quite strict to what’s most important to me. I made these changes well over eighteen months ago in a bid to be more productive at home and at work.

Keeping those facts in mind I was unaware of the latest iPhone 11 release, I’d seen no advertisements, keynote speeches or anything else regarding it. The first I heard of it was through my social feeds in which it weighed in heavily, either through people I knew, the general public or celebrities. This sparked my interest, that I should learn about it such a way, purely through people first than by any direct marketing by Apple.

Whether it was Ellen DeGeneres or Alan Sugar, my mate Bob on Twitter or the girl I passed in the street stating she just had to have it. The power of people’s desire for the iPhone 11 really shone through to me.

This made me look at my own four-year-old iPhone 6s which is in near perfect condition, there isn’t a scratch on it, it’s been in an Otterbox case with a glass screen protector on it since day one. It’s had a battery replacement which cost me £30 when Apple were doing a special on them, during the slowing down of the iPhones issue. Other than that the phone has been faultless, it stands as a testament to both the incredible quality of Apple and Otterbox products, knowing this really makes the power of perceived obsolescence stand out to me.

What is perceived obsolescence? The Wiki reads like this:

“Obsolescence of desirability or stylistic obsolescence occurs when designers change the styling of products so customers will purchase products more frequently due to the decrease in the perceived desirability of unfashionable items.”

And after reading A Life Less Throw Away by Tara Button (a book I highly recommend you read), I discovered the origins of perceived obsolescence dated back to 1929 when advertiser George Frederick coined the phrase ‘progressive obsolescence’ and his wife Christine ran with the idea in her book Selling Mrs Consumer. A guide on how companies could manipulate women in several ways to persuade them to consume at an increased rate.

Christine encouraged her readers to become highly suggestible people willing to spend above their means, upgrade regularly and throw away perfectly useful items, something that has stood the test of time to present day by marketers making us hate something we once loved.

Every year Apple does a great job of tempting the buyer to desire something newer, better and quite a bit sooner than they need to.

I’ve no doubt whatsoever the iPhone 11 is a great bit of kit, people will tell me a myriad of different new features as to why it’s worth every penny and indeed people are free to spend their money exactly how they want on products they probably love very much. But every year around the world 150 million phones are disposed of and that makes me wonder how many of these are down to perceived obsolescence rather than the phone no longer functioning?

I love my iPhone, it’s been great in the four years that I’ve owned it, the overall build quality is ultimately its best feature and I think that’s what some people seem to be missing. I’ve been out of contract for nearly two years now saving me £1080, money I’ve been able to save and spend on experiencing life while I’ve still had a perfectly functioning phone in my hand. I’m going to challenge myself to try and hold onto it for as long as I can.

My mindset has changed dramatically over the past two years, looking for quality in products first and foremost and only replacing items that are broken or worn out. Having this mindset has saved me a considerable amount money and is better for the environment.

The time will come when my phone is no longer serviced for a battery or anything else and that’s when I’ll get another iPhone. In the long run, I’ll have had exceptional value for money from the longevity of the product. Its best quality isn’t the camera, processor or Liquid Retina HD display, it’s how long it can last you if you take good care of it.

I was surprised to watch how my feeds exploded with all things iPhone 11 and confirmed to me how prevalent perceived obsolescence still is today. If you’re more interested to learn about consumerism, overspending and how to find products that best serve your life, I suggest you pick up a copy of A Life Less Throw Away by Tara Button. You can learn more about how Tara is at the forefront of a global movement to change the way we shop and live forever by championing the long-lasting and most sustainable products on the Earth.

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