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Planned obsolescence From Wikipedia,

Planned obsolescence or built-in obsolescence[1] in industrial design is a policy of planning or designing a product with a limited useful life, so it will become obsolete, that is, unfashionable or no longer functional after a certain period of time.[1] Planned obsolescence has potential benefits for a producer because to obtain continuing use of the product the consumer is under pressure to purchase again, whether from the same manufacturer (a replacement part or a newer model), or from a competitor which might also rely on planned obsolescence.[1] For an industry, planned obsolescence stimulates demand by encouraging purchasers to buy sooner if they still want a functioning product. Planned obsolescence is common in many different products, including but not limited to wheeled can openers, screws, ear protectors, headphones, shoes, book bindings, automobile batteries, and bicycle tires. There is however the potential backlash of consumers who learn that the manufacturer invested money to make the product obsolete faster; such consumers might turn to a producer (if any exists) that offers a more durable alternative. Estimates of planned obsolescence can influence a company's decisions about product engineering. Therefore, the company can use the least expensive components that satisfy product lifetime projections. Such decisions are part of a broader discipline known as value engineering.

Origins of the phrase

Origins of planned obsolescence go back at least as far as 1932 with Bernard London's pamphlet Ending the Depression Through Planned Obsolescence.[2] The essence of London's plan would have the government impose a legal obsolescence on consumer articles, to stimulate and perpetuate consumption. However, the phrase was first popularized in 1954 by Brooks Stevens, an American industrial designer. Stevens was due to give a talk at an advertising conference in Minneapolis in 1954. Without giving it much thought, he used the term as the title of his talk. From that point on, "planned obsolescence" became Stevens' catchphrase. By his definition, planned obsolescence was "Instilling in the buyer the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary." The phrase was quickly taken up by others, but Stevens' definition was challenged. By the late 1950s, planned obsolescence had become a commonly used term for products designed to break easily or to quickly go out of style. In fact, the concept was so widely recognized that in 1959 Volkswagen mocked it in an advertising campaign. While acknowledging the widespread use of planned obsolescence among automobile manufacturers, Volkswagen pitched itself as an alternative. "We do not believe in planned obsolescence", the ads suggested. "We don't change a car for the sake of change."

In 1960, cultural critic Vance Packard published The Waste Makers, promoted as an expos of "the systematic attempt of business to make us wasteful, debt-ridden, permanently discontented individuals". Packard divided planned obsolescence into two sub categories: obsolescence of desirability and obsolescence of function. "Obsolescence of desirability", also called "psychological obsolescence", referred to marketers' attempts to wear out a product in the owner's mind. Packard quoted industrial designer George Nelson, who wrote: "Design... is an attempt to make a contribution through change. When no contribution is made or can be made, the only process available for giving the illusion of change is 'styling!'" The rationale behind the strategy is to generate long-term sales volume by reducing the time between repeat purchases, (referred to as shortening the replacement cycle). Firms that pursue this strategy believe that the additional sales revenue it creates more than offsets the additional costs of research and development and opportunity costs of existing product line cannibalization. The rewards are by no means certain: In a competitive industry, this can be a risky strategy because consumers may decide to buy from competitors. Shortening the replacement cycle has many critics as well as supporters. Critics such as Vance Packard claim the process wastes and exploits customers. Resources are used up making changes, often cosmetic changes, that are not of great value to the customer. Supporters claim it drives technological advances and contributes to material well-being. They claim that a market structure of planned obsolescence and rapid innovation may be preferred to long-lasting products and slow innovation. In a fast-paced competitive industry market success requires that products are made obsolete by actively developing replacements. Waiting for a competitor to make products obsolete is a sure guarantee of future demise. The main concern of the opponents of planned obsolescence is not the existence of the process, but its possible postponement. They are concerned that technological improvements are not introduced even though they could be. They are worried that marketers will refrain from developing new products, or postpone their introduction because of product cannibalization issues. For example, if the payback period for a product is five years, a firm might refrain from introducing a new product for at least five years even though it may be possible for them to launch in three years. This postponement is only feasible in monopolistic markets. In more competitive markets rival firms will take advantage of the postponement and launch their own products. However, if a firm develops a product improvement but keeps that improvement secret, that firm effectively maintains a monopoly on that improvement, unless and until another firm independently develops the same product improvement, which is unlikely if it is a particularly innovative or creative one.

Types of obsolescence
Technical or functional obsolescence
A common method of planned obsolescence is to use inferior materials that are prone to eventually breaking or otherwise becoming damaged. In the case of wheeled can openers, colluding manufacturers make the can opener's teeth out of relatively soft metal that is prone to deformation (and consequent malfunction due to flattening of the teeth) after using the opener for a while. Some can opener manufacturers make one-wheeled 'butterfly' can openers

with a rotating axis piece made of poor-quality plastic that is very prone to breakage. Similarly, some manufacturers of ear protectors use poor-quality plastic that is prone to embrittlement and breakage. Screws are often made with a combination of relatively soft metal and an opening that is too shallow to grip the screwdriver head well, such that deformation of the metal gripping the screwdriver head (and consequent malfunction due to the inability of the screwdriver head to grip the screw) is highly likely. Planned obsolescence is made more likely by making the cost of repairs comparable to the replacement cost, or by refusing to provide service or parts any longer. A product might even never have been serviceable. Creating new lines of products that do not interoperate with older products can also make an older model quickly obsolete, forcing replacement. Examples include change of formats and peripheral devices in computers, change of formats in home audio recordings and movies (gramophone record to Magnetic tape sound recordings to CDs and VHS video to DVDs to Blu-ray). Some products are powered by a battery (cell) that is soldered into the circuitry or enclosed in a sealed housing, instead of being easily replaceable by a new battery. Although the product owner could resolder in a new battery, most owners will not bother or do not have the required skills. Some products contain rechargeable batteries that are not user-replaceable after they have worn down, so that consumers are required to pay for a service of battery replacement or to buy a new product. Planned functional obsolescence is a type of technical obsolescence in which companies introduce new technology which replaces the old. The old products do not have the same capabilities or functionality as the new ones. For example a company that sold consumer video tape decks while they were developing DVD recorders was engaging in planned obsolescence. They were actively planning to make their existing product (video tape) obsolete by developing a substitute product (recordable DVD) with greater functionality (better recording quality). Associated products that are complements to the old products also become obsolete with the introduction of new products. An example of this is video tape holders which became obsolete when video tapes and video tape decks became obsolete.

Systemic obsolescence
Planned systemic obsolescence is the deliberate attempt to make a product obsolete by altering the system in which it is used in such a way as to make its continued use difficult. New software is frequently introduced that is not compatible with older software. This makes the older software largely obsolete. Even though an older version of a word processing program is operating correctly, it might not be able to read data saved by newer versions. The same thing may be said of printers and refill cartridges, for example. Another way of introducing systemic obsolescence is to eliminate service and maintenance for a product. If a product fails, the user is forced to purchase a new one. This strategy seldom works because there are typically third parties that are prepared to perform the service if parts are still available. To combat this third party repairing say in the case of replacing a laser assembly in a DVD drive soldered points are on the printed circuit board without explanation so, unless the user knows which ones to remove, the item cannot be repaired. In turn, third parties can overcome this by reverse-engineering (a legal practice), but at added expense which may drive up the price of third-party repair to the point that it is economically unattractive to consumers.

Style obsolescence
Marketing may be driven primarily by aesthetic design. Product categories in this case display a fashion cycle. By continually introducing new designs, and retargeting or discontinuing others, a manufacturer can "ride the fashion cycle". Such product categories include automobiles (style obsolescence), with a strict yearly schedule of new models; the almost entirely style-driven clothing industry (riding the fashion cycle); and the mobile phone industries with constant minor feature enhancements and restyling. Planned style obsolescence occurs when marketers change the styling of products so customers will purchase products more frequently. The style changes are designed to make owners of the old model feel out of date.

Notification obsolescence
Some companies have developed a version of obsolescence in which the product informs the user when it is time to buy a replacement. Examples of this include water filters that display a replacement notice after a predefined time and disposable razors that have a strip that changes color. Whether the user is notified before the product has actually deteriorated or the product simply deteriorates more quickly than is necessary, planned obsolescence is the result. In this way planned obsolescence may be introduced without the company going to the expense of developing a "more up to date" replacement model. In some cases, notification may be combined with the deliberate disabling of a product to prevent it from working, thus requiring the buyer to purchase a replacement. Inkjet printer manufacturers who employ smart chips in their ink cartridges to prevent them from being used after a certain threshold (number of pages, time, etc.), even though the cartridge may still contain usable ink or could be refilled. This constitutes programmed obsolescence, in that there is no random component to the decline in function.

Obsolescence by depletion
When a product consumes a resource, as when a computer printer consumes ink and paper, it is generally understood that this is unavoidable. But some products also consume related resources that need not be consumed. For example, a 4-colour inkjet printer that is used mostly for printing in gray scale and seldom in colour may be pre-programmed to deplete colour inks while printing black, so that the colour cartridge(s) must be replaced more often.[3]

Economics of planned obsolescence

Planned obsolescence tends to work best when a producer has at least an oligopoly.[4] Before introducing a planned obsolescence, the producer has to know that the consumer is at least somewhat likely to buy a replacement from them. In these cases of planned obsolescence, there is an information asymmetry between the producer who knows how long the product was designed to last and the consumer, who does not. When a market becomes more competitive, product lifespans tend to increase.[citation needed] When Japanese vehicles with longer lifespans entered the American market in the 1960s and 1970s, American carmakers were forced to respond by building more durable products.[5]

While planned obsolescence is appealing to producers, there can also be significant harm to society in the form of negative externalities. Continuously replacing, rather than repairing, products creates more waste, pollution, uses more natural resources, and results in more consumer spending. One workaround for these setbacks can involve a consumer getting more tech-savvy about them so they can jury-rig them to work with newer equipment similar to a MacGyverism; and upcycling the resources can offset the budget for home projects, whereas downcycling allows for more generalized purposes to live on. And those consumer strategies can counter the setbacks. Others have defended planned obsolescence as a necessary driving force behind innovation and economic growth.

Obsolescence and durability

If marketers expect a product to become obsolete, they can design it to last for a specific lifetime. If a product will be technically or stylistically obsolete in five years, many marketers will design the product so it will only last for that time. This is done through a technical process called value engineering. An example is home entertainment electronics which tend to be designed and built with moving components like motors and gears that last until technical or stylistic innovations make them obsolete. These products could be built with higher-grade components, but they are not because this would impose an unnecessary cost on the purchaser see overengineering. Value engineering will reduce the cost of making the product and lower the price to consumers. A company will typically use the least expensive components that satisfy the product's lifetime projections. The use of value engineering techniques have led to planned obsolescence being associated with product deterioration and inferior quality. Vance Packard claimed that this could give engineering a bad name, because it directed creative engineering energies toward short-term market ends rather than more lofty and ambitious engineering goals.

Planned obsolescence in software

Software companies are sometimes thought to deliberately drop support for older technologies as a calculated attempt to force users to purchase new products to replace those made obsolete.[6] Most proprietary software will ultimately reach an end-of-life point, at which the manufacturer will cease updates and support. As open source software can always be updated and maintained, the user is not at the sole mercy of a proprietary vendor.[7] Software which is abandoned by the manufacturer support-wise is sometimes called Abandonware. It may sometimes be economically infeasible to offer perpetual support for software. This especially applies to network-related software, where continued development work may be necessary to close new entry points for malicious attackers and malicious software. Covering these costs would either require a continual maintenance fee or a much higher upfront cost. Thus network-related software may reach an actual end-of-life, where support has been withdrawn from the provider and continued use of the software would yield an unacceptable security risk to the customer.

Ethics and consequences of planned obsolescence

Planned obsolescence has these consequences:

A harm to the environment, due to more pollution caused by more resource extraction and by more manufacturing of products. A harm to the environment, due to more waste generation. An increase in living costs, as products must be bought multiple times. Repeated spending just to keep up with fashion or design or technology changes that might be irrelevant to an owner of an older model. Time and money spent on replacing the item and adjusting to the new model.

Article : Ending the Depression Through Planned Obsolescence (1932)

By Bernard London Frank V. Vanderlip, former President of the National City Bank, of New York, characterized this as a stupid depression. He emphasized the fact that millions were suffering amidst glutted markets and surpluses. The new paradox of plenty constitutes a challenge to revolutionize our economic thinking. Classical economics was predicated on the belief that nature was niggardly and that the human race was constantly confronted by the spectre of shortages. The economist Malthus writing in 1798 warned that the race would be impoverished by an increase in population which he predicted would greatly exceed gains in the production of foodstuffs. However, modern technology and the whole adventure of applying creative science to business have so tremendously increased the productivity of our factories and our fields that the essential economic problem has become one of organizing buyers rather than of stimulating producers. The essential and bitter irony of the present depression lies in the fact that millions of persons are deprived of a satisfactory standard of living at a time when the granaries and warehouses of the world are overstuffed with surplus supplies, which have so broken the price level as to make new production unattractive and unprofitable. Primarily, this country and other countries are suffering from disturbed human relationships. Factories, warehouses, and fields are still intact and are ready to produce in unlimited quantities, but the urge to go ahead has been paralyzed by a decline in buying power. The existing troubles are man-made, and the remedies must be man-conceived and manexecuted. In the present inadequate economic organization of society, far too much is staked on the unpredictable whims and caprices of the consumer. Changing habits of consumption have destroyed property values and opportunities for employment. The welfare of society has been left to pure chance and accident.

In a word, people generally, in a frightened and hysterical mood, are using everything that they own longer than was their custom before the depression. In the earlier period of prosperity, the American people did not wait until the last possible bit of use had been extracted from every commodity. They replaced old articles with new for reasons of fashion and up-to-dateness. They gave up old homes and old automobiles long before they were worn out, merely because they were obsolete. All business, transportation, and labor had adjusted themselves to the prevailing habits of the American people. Perhaps, prior to the panic, people were too extravagant; if so, they have now gone to the other extreme and have become retrenchment-mad. People everywhere are today disobeying the law of obsolescence. They are using their old cars, their old tires, their old radios and their old clothing much longer than statisticians had expected on the basis of earlier experience. The question before the American people is whether they want to risk their future on such continued planless, haphazard, fickle attitudes of owners of ships and shoes and sealing wax. What the people can afford is very different at a time when the majority are gainfully employed than it is in a period when perhaps ten million are without gainful employment. The job of modern management is to balance production with consumption to enable one large group, like the factory workers in the cities, to exchange the products of their hours of labor for the output of farmers. The prevailing defeatist assumption that depression and unemployment must continue because we have too much of everything, is the counsel of despair. Society is suffering untold loss in foregoing the workpower of ten million human beings. The present deadlock is the inevitable result of traveling along blind alleys. Chaos must unavoidably flow from an unplanned economic existence. In the future, we must not only plan what we shall do, but we should also apply management and planning to undoing the obsolete jobs of the past. This thought constitutes the essence of my plan for ending the depression and for restoring affluence and a better standard of living to the average man. My proposal would put the entire country on the road to recovery, and eventually restore normal employment conditions and sound prosperity. My suggested remedy would provide a permanent source of income for the Federal Government and would relieve it for all time of the difficulties of balancing its budget. Briefly stated, the essence of my plan for accomplishing these much-to-be-desired-ends is to chart the obsolesce of capital and consumption goods at the time of their production. I would have the Government assign a lease of life to shoes and homes and machines, to all products of manufacture, mining and agriculture, when they are first created, and they would be sold and used within the term of their existence definitely known by the consumer. After the allotted time had expired, these things would be legally dead and would be controlled by the duly appointed governmental agency and destroyed if there is widespread unemployment. New products would constantly be pouring forth from the

factories and marketplaces, to take the place of the obsolete, and the wheels of industry would be kept going and employment regularized and assured for the masses. I am not advocating the total destruction of anything, with the exception of such things as are outward and useless. To start business going and employ people in the manufacture of things, it would be necessary to destroy such things in the beginning but for the first time only. After the first sweeping up process necessary to clean away obsolete products in use today, the system would work smoothly in the future, without loss to harm to anybody. Wouldnt it be profitable to spend a sum ofsaytwo billion dollars to buy up, immediately, obsolete and useless buildings, machinery, automobiles and other outworn junk, and in their place create from twenty to thirty billion dollars worth of work in the construction field and in the factory? Such a process would put the entire country on the road to recovery and eventually would restore normal employment and business prosperity. An equally important advantage of a system of planned obsolescence would be its function in providing a new reservoir from which to draw income for the operation of the Government. The actual mechanism involved would be briefly something like this: The people would turn in their used and obsolete goods to certain governmental agencies, situated at strategic locations for the convenience of the public. The individual surrendering, for example, a set of old dining room furniture, would receive from the Comptroller or Inspector of such a Station or Bureau, a receipt indicating the nature of the goods turned in, the date, and the possible value of the furniture (which is to be paid to him in the future by the Government). This receipt would be stamped in a receipt book with a number, which the individual would have received when he first brought in the obsolete article to be destroyed. Receipts so issued would be partially equivalent to money in the purchase of new goods by the individuals, in that they would be acceptable to the Government in payment of the sales tax which would be levied as part of my plan. The workers wages are exhausted in a week or a month in the purchase of food, clothing and shelter. He has for himself little that is permanent to show for his hours of toil, whereas the owner of the building or machine which the workers labor helped to construct has a unit of capital goods which will last for years or even decades. The man who performed the work received as compensation only enough to purchase comfort and sustenance for a short time, and he must continue to labor if he wishes to go on living. The product of the workers hand, however, is a semi-permanent thing and produces income for its owner for an indefinite period of years. In the end, not only is the original cost of production repaid and interest yield on the investment, but far more besides. This very lasting quality of the product of the workers toil results to his disadvantage, for a time comes such as we are passing through today, when there is an excess of capital goods and the worker is told: We have enough production of wealth; we are going to use up what we have an need no more for the present. You laborer, go find work elsewhere. We do not need you now. And so the worker, whose sweat wrought this vast store of material goods, suffers from poverty and want, while the country is glutted with everything. My plan would correct this obviously inequitable situation by arbitrarily limiting the returned capital, to a stipulated period of years, after which the benefits would revert to the people.

The situation in which the country now finds itself, in which there is poverty amidst plenty, is well illustrated by the analogy of a great giant standing in a pool of fresh water up to his lips, yet crying out that he is thirsty because he is paralyzed and cannot stoop to drink. His muscles must be enabled to relax for him to bend down in order that he may quench his thirst. So, too, the paralysis which prevents our economic society from consuming the abundant supplies of raw materials and manufactured commodities which glut our markets must be cured before normal conditions can be restored. Furniture and clothing and other commodities should have a span of life, just as humans have. When used for their allotted time, they should be retired, and replaced by fresh merchandise. It should be the duty of the State as the regulator of business to see that the system functions smoothly, deciding matters for capital and labor and seeing that everybody is sufficiently employed. The Government will have the power to extend the life of articles for a year or two (upon agreed terms), if they are still useable after their allotted time has expired and if employment can be maintained at a high peak without their replacement. If a machine has been functioning steadily for five years or so, it can fairly be considered dead dead to the one who paid his money for it because he has had all the use of it during those five years and it will have paid for its life by its earnings in the five-year period. Then it should go to the workmen, through the State; its life can be prolonged if the factories are already busy and there are no unemployed. But if by its replacement idle workers can be given jobs and closed factories reopened, then this machine should be destroyed and new (and probably improved) apparatus produced in its place. The original span of life of a commodity would be determined by competent engineers, economists and mathematicians, specialists in their fields, on behalf of the Government.

Planned Obsolescence: 8 Products Designed to Fail

Ink Cartridges
A set of new inkjet cartridges can cost more than the printer itself...yet you may be prevented from using every expensive drop of pigment. Many ink cartridges come with proprietary smart chips on them that disable printing when one of the colors falls to a certain level, even if there's really enough ink to do the job. Plus, the smart chips can discourage refilling or use of third-party ink. Greens should be particularly irked at this last point, since each large laser printer cartridge requires about three quarts of oil and 2.5 pounds of plastic to make. Some water filters have similar technology that calls for replacement before the medium is necessarily used up. Solutions for consumers: Buy cheaper generic cartridges, particularly ones that let you refill the ink. This cuts down on plastic use, and saves you serious money. You can also probably get away with printing less. Use draft and grayscale settings to save ink, and optimize content from the Web or e-mail before you send to the printer, so you don't waste ink on headers,

footers and ads you don't want. You can also skip printing by using online backup services, Google docs and e-mailing things to yourself.

Video Games
When the Super Nintendo (SNES) came out in the early 1990s, it made the earlier Nintendo Entertainment System obsolete. Yes, the processing power and other capabilities had increased, but the SNES also made the massive game library of the 8-bit console obsolete because it couldn't play the old cartridges. Those who wanted to play earlier games had to keep both systems around, and new customers had no option to try older, cheaper titles. With a few exceptions, most video game systems have been designed to prevent backwards compatibility, in no small part to spur sales of the latest technology -- and new copies of the same old games. Solutions for consumers: Trade video game titles with friends, buy and sell used, or rent games. If you do it through Gamefly or a similar mail service, you can also reduce transportation. You can also play games online or on your computer instead of a dedicated console.

Planned obsolescence isn't limited to newer kinds of technology. Even though not much changes from year to year for most core subjects, textbook publishers issue frequent updates. Trouble is, each new edition is usually printed with the information shifted to different page numbers, making it difficult to follow along in class with a previous volume. Textbooks are quite expensive, since publishers believe students have little choice, and it would be better for consumers if new information was placed at the end, or offered as slim supplements. By issuing new editions, publishers also suppress the used market. Solutions for consumers: Some students are fighting back, and are buying recently used texts at a fraction of the cost from places like Craigslist. Or perhaps even cheaper and more convenient, you may be able to rent the textbooks you need., for example, is a mail service not unlike Netflix, in which shipping on return books is free.

Fast Fashion
One year fishnets are out, the next year they're in. Unless you have your own warehouse like Demi Moore, chances are good that you don't hang on to every piece of clothing you own to wait until acid wash comes back into vogue. Whether it's because of cuts, hemlines or colors, a lot of what is advertised and sold is designed to go out of style in a short time. As big-label designer Gary Harvey recently put it, "Too many garments end up in landfill sites. They are deemed aesthetically redundant and get discarded at the end of the season when there are often years of wear left."

Solutions for consumers: Instead of buying the latest and greatest apparel, consider timeless classics. Vintage clothes are a great green choice, and offer nearly endless style possibilities. Avoid so-called "fast fashion," which is churned out quickly based on ephemeral trends and isn't designed to last.

In software, as with some video game hardware, many titles are incompatible with previous files or programs. This definitely gives consumers incentive to upgrade across the board. Many users are also forced to upgrade to new editions after publishers stop providing support to older versions. This is particularly effective for software in which copyright protection limits the amount of service third parties could perform. The march of progress in software often drives hardware sales as well, since newer versions often require increasingly powerful machines. Microsoft's Windows, in particular, gets larger and hungrier for bits with each incarnation, forcing people to purchase faster computers. Solutions for consumers: Instead of proprietary software, use open source titles, which are usually free for typical users, including upgrades. You also may be able to save money by using general titles instead of specialized ones that only do one thing, since you are less likely to get trapped into expensive service or upgrades later. For example, use Microsoft Excel or Google Spreadsheets instead of custom accounting software. Some users may also find that they don't really need to get the latest and greatest upgrades, unless there are security reasons to do so

Automakers are often accused of planned obsolescence for a variety of reasons. They routinely discontinue parts that could otherwise be made available for repairs. And they hew to a strict yearly cycle of model releases, often introducing purely cosmetic changes from one year to the next. Instead of sticking with hits and standardizing them over time, which would better support a repair aftermarket, car companies retire popular models and bring out something new every few years, making it harder to fix older vehicles. Cars today are partly seen as fashion accessories, and a whole culture has arisen of keeping vehicles for only a few years, when it wouldn't be very difficult to extend the life. Cars take a lot of resources to produce, so adding a few years to every model's lifespan could have a big impact. Solutions for consumers: Used vehicles! It may not be the trendiest option, but keeping used cars on the road can prevent new resource use, as long as they aren't too horribly inefficient. Keep your car in good working order to make it last longer, and consider bartering for mechanic service.

Consumer Electronics
Some have complained that cell phones seem to follow planned obsolescence, although it is also true that handsets endure heavy daily use, and often do wear out. Plus, cell phone technology has been proceeding apace. MP3 players, on the other hand, seem to be designed with more rapid planned obsolescence in mind. Unlike many gadgets, these units are rarely upgradable with more memory, meaning consumers are more likely to buy a whole new unit after they fill up their old one. But perhaps even more aggravating is planned obsolescence of proprietary batteries -- typically lithium-ion -- that are found in many MP3 players (in addition to laptops, cameras and some other devices). In the worst case, such as with Apple iPods, the battery can't be removed easily by consumers, forcing an expensive service request when it runs out -- inconveniently priced just below replacement cost of the whole unit, and encouraging a throwaway mentality. Also, many batteries have integrated circuits on them that help regulate power. That can help reduce fire risk, but many are also set to disable the battery after a predetermined number of cycles, even if the life of the individual battery could go on for longer. These advanced batteries are often expensive ($75 or more in the case of laptops, but still pricey for smaller devices), so extending the life is no trifling matter. Solutions for consumers: Luckily, there are a number of good quality "generic" batteries on the market for many devices. These typically are not recommended by manufacturers, but problems are rare. It also isn't that difficult to replace the battery in your iPod, and directions and how-to videos are online. If you are experienced with technology, you may be able to reprogram the battery itself to get around built-in auto shut-off

Light Bulbs
In a few museums, some of Thomas Edison's early light bulbs still glow, after more than 100 years. Yet contemporary bulbs seem lucky to last a year or two. Clearly, the technology exists to make light bulbs last longer, but that isn't exactly a profit motivator for manufacturers. Solutions for consumers: Consider longer lasting light bulbs, such as fluorescent and LED technology. These may cost more up front, but they'll save a lot of energy down the line. But beware that many CFLs haven't lasted as long as advertised, so stick with major name brands. Perhaps most important, keep your lights off as much as possible (dimmers and sensors make it easier); the less your bulbs are on, the longer they'll last.