ITGS Syllabus

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Topic 10

the economic and psychological implications of planned IT obsolescence in hardware, software and services, which has been forced on consumers by the IT industry by Sam Shobeiri

In our day and age, technology improves everyday. As technology improves, the computer industry is able to produce better hardware, software, and services. What results from this is that companies are able to produce newer, updated programs within a short period of previous release. Even though the fact that technology improves helps to improve our daily lives, it has some problems that needs to be addressed.

What are the issues associated with this subject?

The issue here is that as companies in the computer industry produce new software, hardware, and service, they are to a point forcing the owner of an older software or hardware to update. As technology improves, standard of specs and functions increases. Therefore if you do not update your hardware and software, you will not be able to be interactive in the society as there will be compatibility issues. Those with newer software, hardware will be able to open data that comes from a computer with older software and hardware, but many times, not the other way around. Often, companies will stop offering technical support to older hardware and software, making customers tempted to buy the newer version. Is it right for the companies to almost force the customers to update and at the same time charge ridiculously high prices for their products? Shouldn’t customers that bought the older products be equal to the ones that bought the newer product and get the support they need?

Who are the stakeholders?

The stakeholders here are the computer companies producing software, hardware, and services and the consumers who buys them. The companies believe that by producing better, newer programs as much as they can, they are helping technology to improve and create easier and more advanced society. On the other hand, even though consumers like the fact that the technology is improving, most are not attached to a point where they keep on buying newer products. They argue that companies are producing updated software and hardware that creates limitations for older software and hardware, which almost forces the customers to buy the newer versions.

What are the advantages and disadvantages for those stake holders?

One advantage for companies in computer industry to produce new, updated software is that they are improving technology and contributing to the society. Also, obviously, they are making more money by producing updated products. Disadvantage for the companies to make updated software is that if there is not much difference from the previous one, the product will not sell. Advantage for customers to upgrade is that the performance of the product increases, which increases efficiency and quality of whatever task the product is meant to do. The disadvantage is that they will have to keep on paying ridiculously high prices for every upgraded products.

What solutions can overcome the problem?

There are two solutions to this problem. It is not reasonable for anyone to say that the computer companies shouldn’t produce upgraded products as improvements are always welcome. The problem here is not the fact that companies are upgrading, but rather the price and lack of support for previous versions. It would be ideal if upgraded versions were free of charge, but as that is nearly impossible, they can at least in case of software reduce the price of upgrades for those that own the previous version. In this case the consumer can buy the newer product for smaller cost and therefore be happy and the companies are still making money. Also, to keep the customers of the older software satisfied, the companies should keep on providing customer and technical support.

Who is responsible?

Obviously, the ones responsible here are the computer companies. It is good that they are always improving their products, but by forcing an upgrade and charging high prices, they are making it tough for the consumers.

Are there alternative decisions?

There are few alternative decisions that can be made in this case. Either do not upgrade at all, or, in case of software, download illegal copies of the upgraded version.

What are the consequences of these decisions?

The consequence of not upgrading at all is that you fall behind in this fast paced world. By not having the latest hardware and software, you can be very limited in what you do. A lot of things possible in new products are not possible in the old ones, causing compatibility issues. The consequence of downloading illegal copies is that, obviously, it is illegal. If you get caught, you get thrown in jail.


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