“Thumbs down” to Hewlett Packard! Ruminations on the Morality of Built-in Obsolescence

Is anybody else out there as frustrated as I am by the built-in obsolescence of IT products?

When I upgraded my Mac to “Snow Leopard” (OS 10.6) recently, all of a sudden my wonderful Hewlett-Packard “All-In-One” printer, scanner, copier became a “One,” that is, just a printer.

So I bit the bullet and called HP support, and got a charming and helpful person who basically said, “We don’t support that product.”  I asked her if they anticipated creating drivers for it? “No, we no longer support that product.”

Which translates into, “We are not creating drivers to make the product you bought from us a few years ago functional, because we want you to buy a new product from us and put the old one in the land-fill.” SHAME!

My machine was about three years old.  Would we accept that from a company that made, say, refrigerators or lawn mowers?

But their policy of built-in obsolescence is smart from a purely economic point of view, because I did end up buying another product from them, a good product at a good price (I had to spend the better part of another afternoon on the phone with them to get it to work on my Mac, but that is another story for another day.)

So I didn’t even punish them for their policy by buying from another company.  Why?  Because their product was better and cheaper, and every hardware company, even my much-favored Apple, builds in obsolescence with constant newer, better and faster software.  If you want to stay up, you have to pay up!

But what happens to all these old computers and printers that still work fine, or would if they could run the newer software?  They get thrown away and added to the garbage of the planet.

So what would a “Green” IT company look like?  And at what point would it become in these companies’ best interest to attend to being good stewards of the earth?  Just wondering.

4 thoughts on ““Thumbs down” to Hewlett Packard! Ruminations on the Morality of Built-in Obsolescence

  1. >Too late now, but I made an interesting discovery when I bought a new computer running Windows Vista and learned that there were no drivers that supported my H-P printer,scanner,copier. I went to a European H-P site and there it was! Because Americans accept planned obsolescence they did not make the driver officially available here, but even H-P would not try to explain to an Italian why his three-year-old printer no long works.

  2. >I bought a new computer online recently which had a new printer as part of the package. I didn't need the new printer, particularly when I discovered the cost of the cartridges. So I decided to install my older all-in-one printer on the new system, and keep the 'new' printer for a reserve. Driver didn't work, of course. Searched all over the Net – most especially on the printer company's site (Canon) for a driver. Everything but what I wanted. Emailed them. No reply. Finally got onto them yesterday here in New Zealand, got someone who spoke English (which regrettably isn't always the case now) and within minutes he'd pointed me to the driver…which I'm sure wasn't there the other day! The thing is not to accept obsolescence as a matter of course. It's an unhealthy practice for the planet and it's certainly time computer companies starting thinking a great deal more greenly than they have done. Incidentally, old computers and the peripherals don't have to be thrown away. Here in NZ they have an annual pickup day for old techno equipment, and locally we have a sheltered workshop (for disabled people) where they're 'unpacking' old computer equipment and sorting it back down into its component parts.

  3. >Mike,Yes to your point on not accepting “obsolescence as a matter of course.” That was a good part of what I was trying to say here.We do have pick-ups as well, but they are infrequent and sometimes hard to know about.

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