Vintage and Obsolete

Innovation and Obsolescence

The trackpad of my laptop, a 15 inch 2010 model, was not responding.
But that was not the problem.

It has been decided by the company that made the laptop that I now own a laptop which is deemed Vintage and Obsolete. And its 7 years old. Just seven.

I don’t know if I should be proud that it has now become a vintage piece or severely disappointed that a laptop which has been working really fine is no longer usable.

Products and Innovation — Going obsolete

When I purchased a second 13” laptop of the same brand more than a year back, I was hoping to give my 15” laptop to my husband. Over the years, he had made peace with his simple refurbished laptop, which is more than 7 years old. It seems to serve him well.

Back to the troublesome trackpad. One evening of this past week, I noticed that the trackpad had popped out. The bottom frame of the laptop had popped out as well with a very visible bulge. From “Replace Soon” to “Replace Now”, I had been ignoring warnings about the impending battery problem. The battery finally gave up and died and started bloating inside the machine.

I promptly went to the service center, a walkable distance from my home. 
I waited for my token number to be called out. While everyone who were present there came to sort out troubles with their mobile phones, I was the only one with a bulky laptop that day. It was a small space where you will have to find your way to a seating space. Next to me, was a book shelf with a few electronics and computer magazines, a coffee table with that day’s newspapers in English and Kannada, and a standee advertisement to encourage recycling of mobile phones.

I was called in. As I sat down, I told the service technician that my laptop was a 2010 model. Back came the prompt response, “The spares and hardware services for this model are discontinued, Madam!” I had nothing to say to him. The whole conversation was over in 10 seconds. He offered to remove the swelled-up battery. He also hinted about some shops where I can get 3rd party batteries.

“Oh! Thats great!”, I said, already thinking of other questions to ask him before I prepared to leave. Although he was not willing to share details of these shops, I requested him — “Give me some leads! Any! This is my number, call me or text me”.

I came home to look up on the internet about this whole topic of retiring support, services and older models of laptop. The year and model of my 
15” laptop made it to the list of vintage and obsolete products. I was not 
living under the rock but still, I couldn’t seem to accept this had happened 
to my laptop.

As a consumer, I cannot seem to accept that the services and support (the least I can expect from the brand) has been discontinued for the product, which is exceptional in its performance. Yes, operating systems are not supported after a period of time. But a laptop battery not being available is quite absurd.

By stopping support for services for a product that will very likely perform well for some more years, the brand has failed and made their own product useless; totally useless.

What if I wish to repair and use the product?
What if I chose to not upgrade or recycle?
What if I prefer to buy and use authorized spares and accessories only?

What are my options? 
Throw/Discard/Recycle Or 
To keep up with the market trends - Upgrade and Buy Newer Models?

Research and innovation continue to happen. Technological advancement is fascinating and inevitable. The passion for research and innovation and the intent to make everything better than the earlier version — sleeker, faster, fascinating, more meaningful by form, function and experience, brands may fail to make products last longer. And deliberately so! But isn’t that a given in the technology product research and innovation space where products continue to iterate and transform, while eventually turning obsolete in the process and over time?

From floppy discs getting stuck while trying to read a file to a scratched CD/DVD rendering itself unusable; we have now moved to cloud storage and effortless file transfers. No one in 2017 is going to complain, “Hey, I can’t put my floppy disc in my laptop, where is the slot?” We are living with technology and adapting to the changes as and when they present themselves to us.

I have a large bin of “obsolete” products in my stash — decade-old “vintage” mp3 players, low-fi first-gen digital cameras and the like that can by no means be passed on to anybody and must end up in the e-waste pile or in the cupboard for nostalgic associations.

For sure, technological products like laptops and mobile phones will never make it to the list of artifacts that we can pass on to future generations (for further and continued use and not as a vintage still life object!).

I am now off to search for a battery from a third party supplier which is a huge risk, to revive my very fine and fast laptop! The brand has failed; But hey, they are innovating! What about users who believe in repair and use; durability and sustainability and value for money? Plastics in the oceans aside; I can’t even begin to imagine the world of growing e-waste that we continue to generate and contribute.

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