Traditionally, people like to invest in things that they feel are “irreplaceable” (or priceless to them)
…that unique outfit, that piece of Jewelry (gold is in vogue again at $1900 an ounce), that one-of-a-kind art work, that special home-sweet-home (i.e. not cookie-cutter), and most importantly that special relationship (i.e. people are truly irreplaceable and they are an investment not of money, but of our heart and soul!).
In fact, when we spend our hard-earned money, only to see something break down after a relatively short period of time, we feel upset, angry, almost betrayed–like we got taken by the salesperson or manufacturer.
Years ago, engineers actually made things with “planned obsolescence”–that is built to break down after a certain period of time (i.e. “designed for the dump”)–usually coinciding with the end of the period of warranty, so that consumers would be forced to open their wallets again and feed the giant sales apparatus, called our economy.
Yet, in the age of information technology and consumer electronics, while we don’t want to see things break down, we do want a fast replacement cycle on them–since the technology and features are changing so quickly.
The Atlantic (September 2011) has an interesting article about this called Replacement Therapy–describing the trend of consumers of technology who actually cheer on the death of their gadgets, so that they don’t feel so guilty and wasteful buying the newest models with the latest features every 18 months or so.
According to the author, many of us have “turned into serial replacers” of technology–so that the twist is that it’s no longer “our devices that wear thin, [but rather] it’s our patience with them.”
This is Moore’s Law at it’s extreme–where the speed of technological progress make our most recent IT purchase practically obsolete by the time we plug it in.
I have to admit that I too don’t mind replacing yesterdays tech toys, today–because the newest functionality and design make it worth it to me.
Relatively speaking the computing power and connectivity we are getting is so cheap for what it is–which is life-changing.
I rely on the technology all the time (probably way too much–cyber security beware!) and for a few hundred or a few thousand dollars, you can be at the top of your game.
To me it’s not the gadget that is irreplaceable anymore, but it’s the capability we are bringing to people.
Our life experiences are so much enhanced–because of the technology, we can share information, communicate, collaborate, transact, and entertain ourselves and each other like never before in history–those experiences are truly irreplaceable for each and every one of us–and that is more than any money can buy.