Sunday, November 9, 2008

Product Life Span

There is a notion about the corporate side of design that is as follows: in order to make more profit companies churn out more of the same product (with slight alterations, usually aesthetic ones) every so often to keep people interested in the product and to make more money. Usually these products have a short life span and are not meant to last a long time, depending on what the product is perhaps only a few years or less.

The first mp3 Player I owned, I got when I was a sophomore in high school. I could have very easily bought an Apple brand I-Pod, but I got a slightly better deal on a Sony one. I really like the Sony mp3 player, it had a simple and clean design, and also had an aluminum casing. Over the course of the 5 plus years I had it, I dropped it countless times, spilt stuff on it, left it in sweltering hot cars in the dead of summer, and so on. It never showed any signs malfunction, never decreased in battery life, nothing. I only recently got a new mp3 player with more memory and better tech functions, not because my old one stopped working. I’ve talked to a great deal of people who have owned I-Pods and almost all of them have had several problems. Most problems concerned troubles linking to a computer, battery malfunctions, or just poor construction, I guess I-pods do not handle drops and spills too well. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who has heard all the problems people have been having with the I-Phone, It seems like nearly everyone I have talked to who has one is on their second or third one, because of their old ones not holding up well and breaking so easily.

When I decided it was finally time to buy a new mp3 player, I of course went back to the Sony store. It was then that I was met with some very upsetting news: Sony had reduced their mp3 player line to only a handful of low memory players, for the casual listener. Mp3 players like the one I had bought from them years before, were no longer being made by Sony. Apple had beaten Sony out of the mp3 player war. Was the very reason I was so in love with Sony’s product the very reason they had been decimated by Apple?

                In my experience, Sony made a very nice product, especially in comparison to Apple’s. But Apple’s less righteous approach to business and products won out in the end. I was left puzzled by this. Why can’t an honest approach to product making also be a lucrative one? In the future, as companies are pressured by consumer awareness to make sustainable products, the main issue will surely be finding a way to align the interests of business, product, and certainly sustainability.

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