by Titi Santamato
Autumn is the season of the year when tech companies release new smartphones. Few days ago we saw what the new iPhone will look like, new phones from Google will arrive soon, last month Samsung presented its foldable devices. In between, there are a plethora of brands, from Oppo to Huawei, and from Motorola to Xiaomi, that produce models. But what would a smartphone look like if it could last for 10 years? The question – in times of an energy and component crisis but also in environmental consciousness – is posed by The New York Times, which emphasizes the topic of planned obsolescence.
Just a few days ago, the European Union submitted a draft of a new directive designed to increase the turnover of mobile phones. “It is really very difficult for a mobile phone to last a decade, as suggested in the article. Today, even PCs and laptops barely last 10 years, business tools are designed to be scalable by replacing components and updating software – Giovanni explains to ANSA Miragliotta, Professor at the School of Management at Politecnico di Milano and Senior Director at the Digital Innovation Observatories – starting with careful data analysis, perhaps Possible to increase the average current duration by 50%But be careful not to impose obligations on producers that are not reasonable for the market. Smartphones are produced with more personal use, consumer choice, expression of one’s vision in information technology, and innovation, in constant evolution.”
The New York Times interviewed Don Norman, Apple’s former vice president of technology and author of dozens of books on design: He explained how smartphone makers are guilty of treating consumer technology like fashion, and delivering products that can be fixed every year. “Consumers have a lot of power when they come together,” he added.
The reflection on the replacement of phones in the non-pink smartphone market has been completely integrated. Between April and June 2022, according to data from research firm Canalys, global sales were down 9% compared to the same period last year. For analysts, the reasons for the slowdown are geopolitical uncertainty, economic crisis and inflation that reduces purchasing power. There is a desire in the European Union to force smartphone manufacturers to increase the life of devices. A few days ago, Brussels presented a draft directive aimed at increasing the turnover of mobile phones. The commission also aims to reduce environmental pollution from the production of various smartphone components, especially batteries.
Google has in the past put Project Ara on the right track, to make a modular phone like Lego, with parts like processors, displays, batteries and cameras that can be replaced. But it was canceled in 2016. At the moment, the only more durable phone is the Fairphone, produced by the Amsterdam startup, whose components can be replaced. “I think it is necessary to denounce clearly planned obsolescence behaviors and push towards more sustainable consumption patterns also through longer device life – Miragliota concluded – but it is important in the regulatory context to set reasonable targets.”
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