Planned Obsolescence Part 3: How to dominate the market, using proven tactics from Apple


DISCLAIMER: This is a satirical piece, and in the true format of satire, contains bits and pieces (or in this case, chunks) of truth. Take this with a healthy sense of humour. 

In the technology world, the successful companies are those that know a good strategy; how to find and keep new customers. That is their bread and butter. This is especially true for companies like Apple or RIM that do not only deal in software, but in hardware as well. To date, no company has excelled at doing this like Apple has, and this thesis is a how-to manual for total world domination, one device at a time.

Tactic 1- Finding new customers for your devices just wouldn't cut it, sooner or later, the market will run out of them, and that would hurt your company's bottom-line. What does a company do, you might ask? Well, do what Apple does, have a clearly defined upgrade cycle, ideally a two to three-year upgrade cycle. Apple does it by simply discontinuing support for devices through an elaborate scheme of hardware OS versions. Attached is a chart from Wikipedia showing IOS versions and compatible devices (source:


VersionSupported devices: portable iOS devices
3.1.3iPhone (original)iPod Touch (1st generation)
4.2.1iPhone 3G; iPod Touch (2nd generation)
5.1iPhone 3GSGSM/CDMA iPhone 4iPhone 4S; iPod Touch (3rd and 4th generation); iPadiPad 2iPad (3rd generation)
... and another (source:

ModeliPhoneiPhone 3GiPhone 3GSiPhone 4iPhone 4S
Initial operating systemiPhone OS 1.0iPhone OS 2.0iPhone OS 3.0iOS 4.0 (GSM model)
iOS 4.2.5 (CDMA model)
iOS 5.0
Highest supported operating systemiPhone OS 3.1.3iOS 4.2.1iOS 5.1

Based on this general hypothesis, here is a projection of the Iphone upgrade/compatibility cycle:

Release Date
IOS versions supported
Year of Obsolescence
Original iPhone
iPhone 3G
iPhone 3GS
iPhone 4
iPhone 4S
iPhone 5

* projected based on trend

As can be seen in the cycle above, every 3 years, iphone users will suddenly find their device not supported by the latest software, apps and OS, causing them to seriously ponder an upgrade. It is worth noting that Apple has recently decided to do away with the version numbers of hardware, which will muddy the analyses of this trend in the future. Now, that is good tactic worth adopting.

Tactic 2- Bitch and moan about platform fragmentation, all with the ultimate scheme of making it acceptable to have only one version of apps for all devices in different tiers. This will provide a great tool to differentiate device performance should your company decide on a significant hardware feature upgrade, such as Apple just did with their new retina displays for the iPad. The new iPad retina display got the tech world hollering at the advancement and the sheer "magic", but little did we know what the true cost would be. Here are the two main predicaments it causes; firstly, software bloat, and secondly, software incompatibility. According to CNET, most existing apps are going to see very significant increases in download sizes to accommodate the new retina display. Older devices will have to contend with processing all that unnecessary extra data and code, which could render the older devices not being able to run as smoothly or not run at all. Given Apples's track record bordering on paranoia regarding fragmentation of the platform, it is safe to assume that there will not be stripped-down versions made available to older devices. For now, as stated in the CNET report, developers may hold back on modifying their apps for the new iPad. However, if history is anything to go by, a little nudge from Apple is all it is going to take to get those pesky developers to fall in line and sing like full-throated songbirds!

Tactic 3- Give your devices a premium feel (that will get the fanboys) but make them so slippery with "shatterific" screens that implode in quite dramatic fashion after one drop from the waist (hey Samsung, you are doing it all wrong). Couple this with a 1-year warranty (or extended warranty for extra bucks) that conveniently does not cover the users clumsiness, and your company will be in good business. After a couple of years, when warranties are all used up, revert back to tactic 1 to clean up those pesky hermetically-sealed devices that have withstood this tactic.

Scratch-loving devices are a good thing for your company's bottomline. The iPod is such a scratch-magnet!

Tactic 4- Seal 'em in. Remember back ion the day when you allowed your customers the luxury of removable batteries, only to have them replaced year, after year, after year by the users themselves. Well, those days are long gone. This isn't Kansas anymore, and the rules have changed. Follow Apple's lead and seal them in tight, with such high-tech proprietary screws that it would take a rocket scientist with a death wish to extract them.

Tactic 5- In the highly unlikely occasion that all the fore-mentioned tactics do not work, which is very, very doubtful, here is a tactic so obscene, so illogical, that it would make the Devil himself blush at the depth of trickery. Limit new exciting features and services to new devices for no reason. Why? Because you can, that's why! Siri? Iphoto? Sure they can run on older devices, but you really don't have to get into those details, do you?

Tactic 6- Last but not the least, provide the proverbial nudge to those customers who just don't get a clue. Push upgrades to the OS on them, but DO NOT tell them their devices are not really compatible with the new version, or that certain apps will start acting all wonky. That will show them, trust me.

Now that you have followed all these steps, sit back and watch your market share rise. Life is good, take some time to pat yourself on the back and to rake in the dough.

End of manual.


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