Rotting Apples: How the world’s biggest tech firm could be forcing you to buy a new iPhone


Sean Quinn, Op/Ed Editor

You’ve probably heard someone say “They don’t make them like they used to” at some point. Apparently companies that produce consumer goods heard it and decided to make it reality. Cell phones used to be durable and had batteries that could last a week, now they can shatter with a single drop and have a battery that can’t last longer than a viewing of Shrek. Apple is at the forefront of this “planned obsolescence” discussion.

Planned obsolescence is intentionally designing products to have a short shelf life with little to no repair options other than to buy a new one. Apple has been hit with a class action lawsuit by a French consumer-watchdog group over intentionally slowing down older iPhone models in order to get customers to buy the newest model. Apple argued that it was intended to slow down the degradation of the batteries in the phones, but that argument falls apart when the phone’s performance suffers. Not to mention that planned obsolescence is illegal in France.

Why would Apple do this? Why do they want their customers to have something that stops working after a couple of years? Well it’s not the customers they’re doing it for, it’s the investors. When you force customers to fork over hundreds of dollars for every new phone, tablet, laptop and any other accessories, you can really rake in the cash (and becoming the first publicly traded trillion dollar company, Apple has been doing just that). Nothing makes investors happier than seeing that arrow go up in the stock market.

Why does this affect us? In current times we need a smartphone. It’s our social circle, information center and entertainment center rolled into one. And as college students we have a lot of other things our money needs to go to than another cell phone. We don’t make a lot of money and most of us on campus are just trying to make ends meet. And considering how the iPhone is one of the most popular cell phones in the world, it isn’t a reach to believe that many students on campus will feel the impact of their phones deteriorating.

Need to write a paper on your phone because you’re not near a computer at the moment? The slower internet speed will tempt you to chuck your phone to the curb (Apple wouldn’t mind as long as you get the new one afterwards). College students need to have a cell phone and NJCU is no exception. Most of us are middle class or lower and can’t afford to keep spending money on new phones. Planned obsolescence does no favors for us, but that seems to be the point. Apple seems to be aware that many of their consumers will either willingly or begrudgingly buy the new model coming out, and that’s all they’re looking for. Apple is a beloved company, but they’ve shown that they aren’t the innovators they once were. As comedian Bill Burr described the house that Steve Jobs built: “New phone can’t fit the old the old charger, this is your hero?”