Did Apple Plan For The iPad 3 To Be Obsolete In Seven Months?

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For many people who bought the third-generation iPad, the faster, Lightning-equipped fourth-gen model came far more quickly than expected. Here in America, that’s lead to a bunch of grumbling, but in Brazil, it’s sparked a class action lawsuit, claiming that the update was tantamount to planned obsolescence.

The lawsuit is being fronted by the Institute of Politics and Law Software, which according to Brazilian publication The Commercial Journal alleges that the advances brought to the fourth-generation iPad such as Lightning and a faster A6X processor should really have been present in the third-gen iPad in March.

The institute claims that the iPad 4 is not an effective technological evolution since the iPad 3 or ‘New iPad’ and characterizes “planned obsolescence”. In practice, the accusation is that the Apple iPad 3 could have reached the shelves with the technology presented in the fourth generation – a processor, a connector and a more advanced camera.

The lawsuit also claims that Apple had established with its iOS line-up a clear pattern of updating them on a yearly product cycle. By breaking that cycle with the fourth-generation iPad and releasing it only seven months later (and only five months later in Brazil), Apple convinced a lot of people to buy a tablet that was going to be obsolete in less than half-a-year.

It’s worth noting that one thing fueling the anger behind this lawsuit is the extremely high price of the iPad in Brazil. The entry level iPad in Brazil costs almost $900, compared to $499 in America.

Planned obsolescence is a rather tricky charge to lay against companies like Apple. The idea that, because Apple quickly updated a product with something better, previous products have been made obsolete, is hard to argue.There are no guarantees of a minimum time frame when you buy any electronic product how long it will be the hottest thing on the market.

Perhaps the best thoughts on planned obsolescence I’ve ever read actually come from a keynote address in July 2012 at the British Embassy’s Creative Summit. They were spoken by Jonny Ive, who said: “As consumers we are incredibly discerning, we sense where has been great care in the design, and when there is cynicism and greed.”

The hallmarks of planned obsolescence in Ive’s view, then, are cheapness, shoddiness, carelessness and cynicism. You can say a lot of things about the transition between the third- and fourth-generation iPad, but I don’t believe I’d use any of those to describe it.

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  • Robert X

    What exactly is obsolete? Welcome to the wonderful world of technology. Things happen quickly.

  • RadTech5000

    Welcome to the fast world of ever moving and growing technology Brazil. I think you need to grow up and realize that your little child anger tantrum lawsuit against Apple will not stop progression. LoL

  • PatatoOor

    @cultofmac why the hell the iPad 3 would be obsolete ? are you insane ?

  • jaybee

    This is utterly ridiculous. The iPad 3 is hardly obsolete! Idiots.

  • lwdesign1

    So to make these upset people happy, Apple should delay releasing its new technology by several years so that these people will somehow have a better sense of themselves that they got a good deal. This argument is absolutely without merit, and is only held by people that MUST HAVE THE LATEST EVERYTHING NOW, NOW, NOW.

    Obsolescence is in the mind of the beholder. If you’ve never owned a computer or tablet, the first gen iPad is a revelation. To someone who’s never owned a computer, an old Mac or PC from the early 90′s is astounding. To forest-dwelling tribe in East Borneo, an old manual typewriter is completely amazing (but so are scissors, pencil sharpeners and ballpoint pens).

    You buy technology for what it can do for you right now, not for how long it will be the latest and greatest thing on the block. If a better device comes along two days from now, you have several choices: 1. Keep what you have and use it, 2. Sell what you have (or hand it down to your kids) and buy the new one, 3. Become disenchanted with the modern world and go live in East Borneo, or 4. Become a Brazilian and protest how life isn’t fair and that there’s a plot by Apple to screw with you.

    Apple, by coming out with more advanced technology more frequently than before is offering the buying public choices, and this is a good thing. Saying that the iPad 1, 2 or 3 are obsolete is a wild statement. On the release of the 4th gen iPad, all the other models didn’t suddenly stop working. They’re still as amazing as they were when they were first released. The new models may be faster, more powerful and have more bells and whistles, but the only thing the Brazilians are protesting is the IDEA that their 7-month old iPad is no longer the big daddy tablet on the street. This is a lawsuit for small minded people who think very small and self-centric thoughts.

  • HWSHY

    john everything hi-tech imported into brazil is twice as expensive as the states.

    this suit, coupled with the cynical granting by Brazilian authorities of the trademark “iphone” after the launch of the iPhone, just makes the society look pretty clownish.

  • VirtualVisitor

    Obsolete? Holy Scandal Headline Lies, cult boys!

  • minimalist1969

    Not only is the iPad 3 not obsolete (mine works just as well as it did last spring) but it was also the best deal going when Apple introduced the iPad 4… I picked up a 16GB wifi model for my mom for just $379 on the apple refurb site. To me, a new port that break all your existing accessories and a slight processor bump is not worth 130 extra dollars. The iPad 3 has received all the same updates as the 4 and will continue to do so for the next two years or so. It runs all the same software. If this is an “obsolete” then I’ve got some cheap android phones stuck on three year old OS’s to sell to the people of Brazil.

  • ArtAvery

    Thats why its called the new iPad, not the iPad 3. This way they were able to replace it quickly without changing the name. Otherwise the online Apple Store would have to include an iPad 3 and an iPad 4, with consumers barely being able to tell the difference – or more importantly Apple would hardly see the difference and have a hard time offering an iPad 3 for much less than the iPad 4. The solution would be to sell the iPad 2 and the iPad 4, which they do, and to prevent the potential confusion that customers would have they decided to call it simply the new iPad.

    Btw. I’m writing this on my iPad 3 and I’m fully satisfied with it. But I get that some people are pissed.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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