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.