Before YOU were invented!          



Posted on July 11th, 2011 in Opinions

We’re in the age of planned obsolescence.

Maybe that’s not true. Maybe companies actually do have important additions to share with the world soon after barely releasing a product. It’s just that it doesn’t look like that at all. Generally, it looks like the new features are made up, barely improve anything at all, and the companies usually look like they had the technology ready for some time already and they have only been waiting to release it at the right time to maximize profits.

This is where I think things fail. Sure, we’re taught that companies should only maximize profits, as it should be the only thing anyone would ever want: simply more. I think that if they tried hard to make things that are really needed, or things that would really be cool to have, they would sell without trying. What I think they do, is make something that people wouldn’t buy naturally, or at least not on a large scale, market it as essential to survival and then sell as much as they want. This last bit is more important than you think: they want to sell a minimum of that much, they have no problem selling up to this much, but if people discover that they really need the product, oh, we’re sorry, we’re gonna discontinue this model after that many sales. We have to release another model and force everyone to move/upgrade to it, thus forcing more money out of people. They don’t want sales below this much, but they don’t want sales over that much, either.

In some cases, yeah, the companies keep making whatever people buy if they see that the products have success over their own estimations. But not all of them. Especially when the press has become a part of the money-milking machine. The press was usually a bunch of people who told others what generally happens in their communities, be it local, regional, countrywide or even international communities. Then, at some point, the press accepted money to report on whatever the person with the money wanted to report.

I can see this practice as moral and even useful, if the media is paid little amounts to just report on things, but with their own heads. If I want to publish an advertisement for my product, the content of which I want to control completely, I should buy some advertising space in that publication. I really don’t get the point of advertorials – they are clearly telling people to buy this or that, yet they are written so that the reader should feel that those are actually the author’s opinions on the matter. As a joke, I think it’s somewhere in the 3rd or 5th grade, or maybe much sooner, that children start to tell the difference between “paid editorials” and actual editorials.

While advertorials are useless for a lot of people who actively try to avoid reading them because they think they’re fake anyway, they probably work. I wouldn’t know. What is really visible is that some media are at least capable of publishing articles dismissing this or that company because they haven’t released anything new. Then you step back and see that the guys doing the dismissing kinda live off reviewing things, so they need new things to review. You’re not feeding them if you’re not releasing new things. And if their opinions are generally respected and considered to be truthful and factual, they will usually want to show their power and influence by writing a bad article about a company who doesn’t find a reason to release a new product. And the press has long been considered a part of product planning, in business.

Then, there’s company growth. People generally think they can do whatever they want in this world, that everything is possible and it’s just a matter of figuring out how to do it. Companies might start with the intention of becoming big, or they might start with the intention of doing valid, useful work that their customers and clients actually need. Of course, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. At some point they might make something that people need in much bigger quantities than whatever the company was ready to deliver. In response, nowadays they’d probably do what I described a few paragraphs ago: nope, that technology has been discontinued and we are hereby forcing enabling you to use a newer technology which we say is undoubtedly better. A while ago, companies would have boosted the production numbers. Some might still do it today, when facing demand much bigger than supply can provide. To boost production numbers, you need more machinery and of course, more people. Extra machinery will be useless if people aren’t around to operate it. That doesn’t need be the machinery and personnel directly employed by the company who needs the production boost; it can be the third party to whom they outsourced manufacturing.

The problem I see is boosting too much. The company ends up becoming too big and, to maintain profitability, starts to invent things so that they can sell more than what was naturally selling already. So they actually force new products into their buyers, that the latter don’t really need. But hey, it has all those bills and salaries to pay – it has to keep the fire running to survive!

There are notable exceptions to this. In short, companies who grew to fantastic sizes because there actually is that much of a demand in the world. An example is accounting. I have never heard of a country where a company can legally exist and not have at least an official accountant. So, if all the companies need at least a little bit of attention from an accountant, that means that more companies will generate more work for accountants. The same applies to garbage collection companies, or mailing services. There will always be garbage to collect and there will always be mail to send. In these cases as well as others, growing a company to gigantic sizes might not be at all artificial and forced.

I personally dream of one day living in a world where no company is bigger than it should be. This is a place for my thoughts on the web. Welcome.

Published by thypope and tagged with: , ,

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