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Abstract

The case focuses on global tech giant Apple's supposed planned obsolescence strategy and its social, environmental and economic implications. Apple was accused of deliberately slowing down its iPhones through software updates and designing its products to be short-lived in order to encourage customers to buy its new models and boost sales. Moreover, a number of devices from Apple were increasingly being designed in ways that made it difficult for users to fix them, thereby shortening their lifespan. Though Apple admitted to throttling older iPhones, it said that it had done so for a purely altruistic reason - allegedly to prevent them from crashing due to aging batteries. To make up for its lack of transparency, Apple eventually discounted the price of replacing batteries in older iPhones. The case explores how Apple's planned obsolescence leads to a short life cycle of the products, which impacts sustainability negatively. By encouraging a culture of consumption, Apple is contributing to the overuse of energy and resources, which increases the risk of global warming. Discarded devices produce large quantities of electronic waste (e-Waste) that pollute ecosystems and contribute to climate change. In addition, mining for essential raw materials endangers workers by fueling armed conflict in countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Also, workers who assemble iPhones in Chinese factories endure sweat shop like condition. As one of the most valuable companies in the world, Apple is environmentally focused and is continuously working to reduce its environmental footprint by focusing on climate change, resources, and safer materials. However, the company's commitment to protecting the people and the planet is increasingly being diluted due to allegations of planned obsolescence. Analysts wondered whether Apple's planned obsolescence is just a public perception or whether the company is really guilty of built-in obsolescence. Going forward, the questions before Apple are: how can it tackle the issue of planned obsolescence? How can it assure stakeholders that it places sustainability before profits? Should the company take a clear stance on this issue, given its global scale and influence? If so, how should Apple go about it?

Teaching and learning

This item is suitable for postgraduate courses.

Time period

The events covered by this case took place in 2007-2018.

Geographical setting

Region:
World/global

Featured company

Apple Inc
Type:
Public company
Industry:
Technology

About

Abstract

The case focuses on global tech giant Apple's supposed planned obsolescence strategy and its social, environmental and economic implications. Apple was accused of deliberately slowing down its iPhones through software updates and designing its products to be short-lived in order to encourage customers to buy its new models and boost sales. Moreover, a number of devices from Apple were increasingly being designed in ways that made it difficult for users to fix them, thereby shortening their lifespan. Though Apple admitted to throttling older iPhones, it said that it had done so for a purely altruistic reason - allegedly to prevent them from crashing due to aging batteries. To make up for its lack of transparency, Apple eventually discounted the price of replacing batteries in older iPhones. The case explores how Apple's planned obsolescence leads to a short life cycle of the products, which impacts sustainability negatively. By encouraging a culture of consumption, Apple is contributing to the overuse of energy and resources, which increases the risk of global warming. Discarded devices produce large quantities of electronic waste (e-Waste) that pollute ecosystems and contribute to climate change. In addition, mining for essential raw materials endangers workers by fueling armed conflict in countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Also, workers who assemble iPhones in Chinese factories endure sweat shop like condition. As one of the most valuable companies in the world, Apple is environmentally focused and is continuously working to reduce its environmental footprint by focusing on climate change, resources, and safer materials. However, the company's commitment to protecting the people and the planet is increasingly being diluted due to allegations of planned obsolescence. Analysts wondered whether Apple's planned obsolescence is just a public perception or whether the company is really guilty of built-in obsolescence. Going forward, the questions before Apple are: how can it tackle the issue of planned obsolescence? How can it assure stakeholders that it places sustainability before profits? Should the company take a clear stance on this issue, given its global scale and influence? If so, how should Apple go about it?

Teaching and learning

This item is suitable for postgraduate courses.

Settings

Time period

The events covered by this case took place in 2007-2018.

Geographical setting

Region:
World/global

Featured company

Apple Inc
Type:
Public company
Industry:
Technology

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