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Stop outmoding and start upgrading: a new business model

When you lease a car you get scheduled maintenance, why not scheduled upgrades?Design devices to be upgraded rather than replaced and build a business around providing updates.

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19 24

Written by DeletedUser

When the compressor on your refrigerator fails, you get it fixed. You don't just run to the store and buy a new one. We need to apply this to consumer electronics. 

And let's face it. The basic form factors of laptops, smartphones and tablets don't change very quickly. The aesthetics of the cases may change, but not their  functions. Screens are already capable of providing so many pixels that our eyes can't see them. The physical interaction with the devices stays the same. It's the internal electronics that change rapidly.

It's time to move beyond planned obsolescence and move towards innovative, strategically planned upgrades.

Let's make a new generation of consumer electronics designed for durability and updatability and build a business around keeping our customers up to date without wasting working parts. Products you will use for years. Some parts will come and go, but only the parts that need upgrading.   When new and better technology emerges, we charge to perform upgrades to existing hardware. The old parts are then recycled responsibly or reused if possible.

Whether you want to upgrade your internals, replace a cracked screen or transplant the internals to a new body, everything in these devices can be disassembled and replaced without wasting the working parts. The design challenge will come from fitting new tech into the existing shells, but a little challenge never hurt anyone!

Machines could even be leased to users with planned upgrades along the way. This would ensure a steady revenue stream.

Design Principles
We need a set of design principles to guide us.
  • Make every part modular. Every component should be replaceable on its own
  • Leave room for new tech. Every logic board should have a few extra ports open for new tech not even dreamed of. Cases should leave a little extra room for it.
  • Design software with older machines in mind. When you update your OS or your application, keep in mind how it will affect older hardware. Ensure that if it will slow things down to not force the update. If possible provided an alternative update that is optimized for older tech

The inspiration behind this idea:
The idea of planned obsolescence is sickening.

  1. You buy the "Best Thing Ever 1.0"
  2. You use it for a short amount of time, and love it.
  3. You see advertisements for the "Best Thing Ever 2.0"
  4. You realize that the "Best Thing Ever 1.0" is garbage and you need the "Best Thing Ever 2.0' or you won't be able to function!
  5. You discard last year's hunk-o-junk and head back to the store.
  6. Repeat. 

This doesn't always mean discarding the whole device. Power users with high end PCs replace parts constantly to refresh their machine and add newer features. 

But, we aren't all tinkerers. We can't all open up our phones or computers and fiddle with confidence. That's where a new design philosophy steps in and brings with it a new business model. 

How does your concept safeguard human health and protect our environment?

This concept ensures that only things that must be replaced are replaced. This reduces the e-waste stream. Responsible recycling ensures that both the earth and the workers in the plant are safe from toxic chemicals.

Where does your concept fit into the lifecycle of electronic devices?

This concept is meant to inspire a new design philosophy for consumer electronics! The idea is to "break" the lifecycle. It starts with strategic design and leads to an extended lifecycle in which only the parts that need to be replaced end up being removed and the rest lives on.

What steps could be taken today to start implementing your concept?

Let's get some energetic engineers and designers together and come up with plans for modular, mobile motherboards!

What kinds of resources will be needed to fully implement and scale your concept?

Startup capital and a team of energetic and excited engineers and designers!

My Virtual Team

Paul Reader Graham G.


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I don't know if anyone will see this now that this challenge is over, but I just saw this video that reminded me of this concept and thought I would share!

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