Good points, TJ. You're right about the Made for Monkeys postings. Nearly all of the complaints with new white-box appliances are with the electronics. It's the control boards that are always getting fried, usually within the first two or three years. This does not bode well for cars as automakers keep packing in more and more electronics.
I like the idea of having universal support to swap out your own electronics. With all of the new electronics being integrated into cars you would think a plan would have been in place to replace the worn out touch screen/entertainment components.
I absolutely believe the story about the touch screen maker who quietly admitted that their screens are made to last just four years. I believe, but can't prove, that there is a matter of planned obsolescence involed in this. I am typing this comment into a 2005 model Compaq Presario computer. When I recently took it in for repairs, the tech asked me, "Why are you bothering? You could get a new machine for just a little bit more." Therein lies the problem. Why should electronics manufacturers build devices that can last 20 years when people are tossing their computers after five years to buy the latest and greatest? I could give many reasons for keeping computers for ten years or more (the main one being I don't like to reinstall software and copy data onto a new machine), but I don't think most consumers of electronic products would agree with me.
Way back in the very early 1990's, Buick had the Reata. That was a "sporty" largish car with an electronic touch screen display (7 or 8 inch as I recall). My boss at that time had one; it seemed it was in the shop quite often for various malfunctions, and one time he had to replace it (out of warranty) for >$1500! When it went out, hardly ANYTHING in the car worked (except you could start the engine and drive to the dealer). No HVAC, none of the "high-end "features," no entertainment stuff (basically radio/cassete), etc. High "coolness" factor, but ZERO usability! He soon dumped it at a huge loss despite having bought it used (but only a few months old!) at a substantial discount.
I think you're right about the market strategy being around planned obsolescence when it comes to the electronics in our vehicles, but there is a need to keep up with modern software advances and look at how furiously fast they come at us. Five or so years ago, most people didn't have GPS and only the buyers of high-end luxury cars were talking about syncing up devices (that's because most people didn't have smart phones or tablets).
My point is the pace of this kind of technology is so rapid fire, that these systems will seem antiquated unless they are updated to keep up with the times. I think TJ's suggestion about a platform that lets you plug in your own electronics makes far more sense than having to replace something that's such an integrated part of your vehicle every few years when you're likely not upgrading or replacing your car.
as they say change is the only permanent thing in the world and electronics really depict this aspect more than any other domain. moore's law and portrays this aspect and this is the market driver for electronic products. This is not the case with mechanical products and hence mechanicals outlast electronics.
Change and Moore's law are reasons for upgrading the electronics, but does not explain why the life expectancy of the electronics is so much less. They're flat-out less durable than mechanical equipment.
it is not alwyas true that life expectancy of electronics is always less compared to mechanical systems. there are electronic timers and switches which are more reliable and durable than mechanical systems. Many a times there are no equivalent systems to compare life expectancy. i agree with your comment that in general mechanical systems are more durable, but then we have to consider many other aspects
Charles, I too hate reinstalling SW. It takes me 2 weeks of 8 hours a day to get a new computer and install all of the SW I have. That's with using the same OS. If I upgraded to Vista from XP I would have also had to buy a new printer and scanner. It's ridiculous. I've been driving cars for about 37 years, and have liked the fact that the accelerator brake and clutch (when present) are always in the same place. What is it with computer SW designers that they want to change everything on the UI every other day.
There is no such thing as planned obsolescence. Companies that supposedly plan for an item to go obsolete are really just designing for a target market using cost verses benefit to the consumer. I’m surea touch screen can be made to last longer than 4 years, but, would it be price competitive.Any company purposely designing with the thought of planned obsolescence would go broke in this world very quickly.Of course, there is GM.
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
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