More than ever before, technology is moving forward at an incredible rate. Every year companies, such as Apple and Google, release products with 'new and life-changing' features and a lot of us scrabble to buy them to keep ahead of the tech curve, but what about those customers that stick loyal to their favourite product? Should they be punished for not buying the latest iteration of technology they have come to rely on?
Smart phones aren't cheap and some of us don't want to be trading in for the latest model every year, but with the speed at which new hardware is developed and software updated, it becomes harder and harder for us to avoid the need to upgrade.
Where warranties are in place there is an obligation for our product to be maintained, but what is there to stop companies from making our products redundant by ending software updates or the production of relevant parts? Unfortunately not much, but while there is little to prevent companies doing this legally, commercially there is every need to keep the customer happy.
One of the major factors of Apple's success is it's brand loyalty, a large part of this is can be attributed to its high levels of customer care. Those of us who still use an IPhone 3 or 4 are still given the option to install updates to our phones rather than being phased out of all future development. Obviously a line has to be drawn between the costly maintenance of obsolete products and keeping customers on board by allowing them to keep using them, but its an important line, worthy of consideration.
It may be in the future that companies will need to add terms to their sales contracts obliging them to maintain the relevant software for a certain period, but for now, we as consumers need to be aware of the risk we take in buying a product in a new area of technology that may or may not work out, or which may change rapidly. Similarly start up companies and companies investing in new technologies need to be aware that if they want to attract initial customers, those customers may weigh up the risk of the product becoming obsolete against their need for it.
"The Bay Area Rapid Transit (Bart) network links San Francisco with nearby cities such as Oakland and Berkeley. It's been running since the 1970s, but is, like transport in many places around the world, struggling a bit under the pressure of a booming population and ageing infrastructure. And so, right now they're busy upgrading various parts of the network, and making adjustments to trains so more people can get on during rush hour. But there's a problem - some of the components that need replacing are obsolete. And so Bart engineers are searching on eBay to pick up what they need. eBay!"