The Light Bulb Conspiracy

The Light Bulb ConspiracyPlanned Obsolescence is the deliberate shortening of product life spans to guarantee consumer demand.

As a magazine for advertisers succinctly puts it: The article that refuses to wear out is a tragedy of business - and a tragedy for the modern growth society which relies on an ever-accelerating cycle of production, consumption and throwing away.

The Light Bulb Conspiracy combines investigative research and rare archive footage to trace the untold story of Planned Obsolescence, from its beginnings in the 1920s with a secret cartel, set up expressly to limit the life span of light bulbs, to present-day stories involving cutting edge electronics (such as the iPod) and the growing spirit of resistance amongst ordinary consumers.

This film travels to France, Germany, Spain and the US to find witnesses of a business practice which has become the basis of the modern economy, and brings back disquieting pictures from Africa where discarded electronics are piling up in huge cemeteries for electronic waste.

Watch the full documentary now

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Ratings: 9.21/10 from 284 users.
  • sammy68

    Although I have been watching documentaries on this site for the last 2 – 3yrs, I have not felt compelled to comment and have rather enjoyed reading others comments. With this doco I feel the need to say that it is too important to the education of us here in the west (read supposedly forward thinking people) to not some how get a translation into English of what was being said by the foreign participants to this doco. It was frustrating to watch when important ideas were being put forward and there was no translation. I feel that this doco is very important as it shows that, YES, from earlier endeavours a conspiracy was formed to make products extremely replaceable. Thank you Vlatko for this doco,very much appreciated.

  • bornin62honest

    Part english, german, and french.
    With dutch subtitles...still pretty good, tho.

  • NaoCat

    I fully agree with what you are saying!

    However one needs to be more careful with the word 'conspiracy'

    Not that it's not accurate but rather because of it's extensive usage in regard to plans made by some organizations (or governments)

    There fore enabling them to attach a stigma to it and deprive it of its meaning. This is mainly aimed at the general public many of whom already consider it synonymous with the acronym UFO and thus determine the subject as being entertaining rather than serious no matter how well-founded the arguments are.

    As for the docu, it's nothing new, here in LT you will often hear people talking how it was better in soviet union, and part of 'why' is that everything was dirt cheap and well made anything ranging from shoes to cars and even foods (yes there was a time when meat was 100% meat and milk was just milk). And everyone, I must stress this EVERYONE had jobs back then, while not as engaging or well paid it provided people with everything they needed.

    If only someone had invented a hybrid between the capitalism and communism taking the best features from both there would be jobs for everyone no starvation and no social separation that is so profoundly affecting the earth today.

  • StillRV

    Closest thing to the society you are speaking of would be the current China. It is still very opressive though. Sadly as long as the world needs governance corruption and opression will follow.Whatever form is adopted the power elite will seek to controll and subvert the masses.

  • ruffkutt

    I sympathize will the authors and other critics of post modern consumerism, however,consumer behaviour is nothing that can easily be abandoned in industrial societies. Shopping for things "new and improved" is considered a liesure activity today. At this point,to mobilize a resistance would actually be counter productive since many jobs as well as stock market performance (and indirectly retirement benefits) would be compromised.

    BTW - Just bought my iPad 2. :-o

  • tomdham

    Good doco, but, as noted might have to go and refresh my high school French and German!!

  • StillRV

    Interesting film. I would also like to have translations or subtitles for all of the dialoge, however the premise and most of the main talking points are quite clear.
    As to solution to this issue, that is a question that goes well beyond me to answer. I can't even begin to understand the world I live in in regards to consumerism. Which is not to say I am anti capitalist or pro socialist. O am just a simple person with simple needs. I try to buy things I like and that will last, I don't give a rats back door about trends or styles. When someone turns a conversation toward the new I-phone or any new product I just shrug and say things like "my 8 year old LG flip phone works great still". This is a mentality issue and can only ever change on a person to person level. As to the sustainability of employment etc. without planned obselescence (sp); Once uppon a time there were men and women whose job it was to go door to door and sharpen knives and scisors for people. Now we just buy new knives. Repair and maintenance jobs that have gone all but extinct would resurface and fill the void of less production.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Farking-Spamhell/608791907 Farking Spamhell

    How about OIL?
    Lasts shorter than a light bulb.

    You are all crazy if you think the OIL and consumer/capitalist economy is going to let you go!

    Its simply modern slavery. Ironically the slave driver is also the slave.

    However as long as Ive got electricity, running water, the internet, TV and enjoying my Ben & Jerry's, I dont care.

  • http://profiles.google.com/naifawwadh naif al-Otibi

    people should organize there self to lobby in this dirction

  • leonardobdas

    the movie the story of stuff explains the whole consuming cycle a bit better i say.

  • tomregit

    "Germanic goose stepping based language" eg. English

  • Guest

    I never buy new, concerning electronics, all my computers, stereo's, high quality amps, speakers, powered subs, etc: are all freebie's, throwaway's, fix and upgrade a lot of them, but most are already functional, amazing what people throw away right in my area.
    For all the new stuff that is out today, can wait a year or two when they become throwaway's. (LOL)

  • capriciouz

    A lot of this documentary is not in English and the subtitles are Icelandic or something. Can be kind of annoying.

  • Guest

    Many docs are coming from other countries....should they all be fully dubbed in English or should we pass on them? I am willing to watch this doc this way as oppose to not watch it.
    The makers are trying to please a big crowd, the Germans,the French, the English and the subtitled which i thought was Dutch.
    Of course the french will be happy when it's their turn, the German will bull around a bit, the subtitled will act intellectual and read and the english will want every word in English! lol

    az

  • sammy68

    I'd like to add that I've just updated my laptop after 6yrs use of my old one which was dying a slow death. I could have kept using it, upgrading some parts but technology was making it obsolete. I have an iphone that I bought after having an 02 xda for 2 years because it had the closest technology (touch screen) 2yrs ago and will update when the iphone 5 comes out - whenever that is. Two friends of mine, one with an iphone 3g and one with a blackberry wanted to update to iphone 4 - i asked them to wait as the new one should be out by at least september and there was nothing wrong with their current phones but they both updated last week. I try to have anything I own repaired if possible, including clothes, handbags - anything that can be which is most things (except for a dropped coffee cup :( and similar). I also save a bit extra when buying major household goods (fridge, washing machine, etc.) so I can afford a product that will last - Ive had my current
    Bosch front loading washing machine for about 13yrs and it is still going strong. I do this because I am aware of consumerism and I dont want to be manipulated by advertising into buying things that I dont need (I got rid of my t.v. 2yrs ago). Once again, thank you Vlatko for this site - I check everyday for new docos and watch almost daily.

  • LowConsumption

    This is a good reference to Zeitgeist Moving Forward. Too bad the subtitle wasn't in English.

    Now we have to go back to our roots of resourcefulness & frugality.

    Just plain Exellent Work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=767709441 Alex Jones

    I quit watching this very intriguing doc. after 2 minutes when I realized from the comments most of this would be in foreign subtitles. I'll wait to watch this when it has English subtitles. Looks to be my kind of film, though.

  • Squeezle42

    Interesting view. Old topic, but recent examples used including planned obsolescence of Apples iPod's, as well as printers. If your not aware of the issue, then this is a good starter film.

  • Jack1952

    We all depend on the jobs that are generated in the production of these items. If things lasted, there would be no need to rebuy them and our unemployment numbers would rocket up.

  • Guest

    May be if we didn't consume so much then we would enjoy and play in life more.
    az

  • StillRV

    There is no reference in this about the whole Zeitgeist theory. This doc addresses cultural indoctrination to consumerism but stays well clear of the penthouse without support structure which is zeitgeist. It is much more a call to attention for the deliberate method of creating repeat customers, than any true anti-monetary system. If Zeitgeist is a nirvana only attainable through wholly improbable perfection than this is purgatory of just knowing your screwed. My bad I must have been drinking the deep thinkers beer tonight.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BYHC4RSPU2QLVZS6UX4GQ7NR7M AllanA

    This video wasn't really that hard to get through without having the English subtitles. Most of the time you could figure out what the speaker is getting at after the narrator set him or her up. A couple of times it would have been nice to know what exactly was said, but it wasn't a deal breaker.

    What I found to be the most disturbing about the video was how the west takes advantage of Guyana. I hope that person is successful with his lawsuit in defending his country. I'm sure this same scenario is being played out in China and few other countries that is excepting our waste.

  • Meathawk2000

    What you fail to realize is that steady population growth will allow continuous jobs. Instead of constant sky rocket "boom & bust" in the economy, it will be a slow smooth rise or fall due to population. This is the same "economy" that is seen in nature.

  • Earthwinger

    @ AllanA, I agree, the scale of abuse that's mostly hidden from western eyes, is appalling. It pains me to say it, but the situation in Guyana, is just one aspect of a much bigger picture that the powers that be, would much rather you weren't aware of.

    A classic example is the Niger Delta. The Gulf oil spill was a tragedy, no doubt about it, but the fact is that for a long time, oil companies have intentionally contaminated places like the Niger Delta, and on a scale that dwarfs the Gulf incident. But how many people in the west are aware of it? The indigenous people there have either been driven from their homes because the land is so contaminated, or they fall ill, and most likely die a very premature death, and activists who have stood up to the oil companies, have been assassinated....and for what? So that we can have cheap oil. Apparently, that's how cheap some lives are, in this world that we've created.

  • Jack1952

    However, faced with competition, each company tries to increase productivity. Increased technology to increase product numbers to decrease labor costs which increases unemployment. Those who are unemployed don't have the money to consume even the essentials. This does not happen in nature. One way out is to plan obsolescence. Another is to increase consumer demand by expanding on the number of types of consumer goods. The logical way out is to restructure society so that it isn't driven by consumption. This will stand in opposition to a capitalist lifestyle and all of us who are afraid of such uncertain changes. The average citizen of an industrialized country has benefited from this consumer lifestyle and most will oppose any changes unless forced to by changing circumstances. By then it may be to late to avoid economic catastrophe.

  • 1BlackHawk

    Exponential growth on a finite planet?

  • 1BlackHawk

    Good points. Capitalism and Socialism in the conventional sense of the words are both based on the theft and (over)exploitation of natural 'resources' anyway, so essentially no different.

  • 1BlackHawk

    "Industrial societies, consumer behaviour, stock market performance,retirement benefits", market forces. All artificial constructs, learned and accepted as reality through our (unspoken) belief that we are separate from, and can conquer, nature. Without consequences.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alfredo-Serra/100002286856390 Alfredo Serra

    1. LAMPS
    2.??????? (planned obsolence)
    3.PROFIT

  • Jack1952

    Unfortunately, many people equate enjoyment and play with consumption.

  • http://profiles.google.com/rforward123 Robyn-Alexandria Leanna Forwar

    unfortunately parts are in french/other languages without english subtitles

  • Guest

    I think it's Ghana in Africa, not Guyana in South America, may be i misunderstood.

    az

  • Guest

    Ho you are right, people love to consume!
    But everything one wants cost an equal amount of due time. See that if you want something that cost 200$, you owe that amount of time (depending on your salary) to life to pay for it.
    Want less and have more FREE time.
    az

  • Gary V

    Planned obsolescence is one of the biggest threats to this planet, we all need to change the way that we think about our consumerism. It will not change until more people demand things that last longer. we live on a planet with finite resources, we need to wake up & wake up soon.

  • Liz68

    Worth perservering with the non English subtitles as most of the talking is in English, so you don't miss out on much. It is a very interesting documentry.

  • MerelyMuslim

    I'll rate it 4/5 for no English subs. Still totally worth it.

  • MerelyMuslim

    This was really an amazing documentary. Very insightful. A friend of mine told me a story recently about a time he visited a friend's house and had waffles from a very old cast iron waffle maker. The waffle maker was more than 60 (80?) years old. The capitalist system that the world currently follows is inherently flawed and depraved.

  • Guest

    why put out a doc in 2 different lanuages?
    To me thats absolute s***

  • Abamovich

    Perhaps our unemployment numbers would rocket up, but then perhaps we would not need as much employment because everything we have would last a lifetime so we would need less. Instead, we would be free from the debt needed to pay for these things so we would not need to work so much.

  • Abamovich

    Brilliant documentary, well worth the watch

    (apart from the fact that it is linguistically confused, English and non English interviews coupled with non English subtitles, but narrated in English! Still, the narration is sufficient, just, to follow the meaning and it is an excellent watch)

  • Jack1952

    Makes sense to me. There would be an adjustment period that would give rise to panic. Those at the bottom end of the economic order would go through desperate times. The transition from planned obsolescence to a higher quality product would have to be a slow process. If not, most people would object, not on principal but for economic survival.

  • http://twitter.com/imatelly jezebel finkelstein

    this is why this bad economy has not bothered me cause i dont use or have credit i own my house and car out right and i bearly buy new things my pc is free all i pay for is internet and i have 3 other free pc's,anything electronic is free..i have never baught a tv but have owned hundreds

  • revolutionnaire

    I enjoyed the documentary for sure!

    I think the subtitles were Swedish maybe? Regardless, you were able to understand the overall idea.

    I firmly believe that the products we buy are crap these days. They simply don't last. I've purchased printers and laptops that lasted just beyond a year. It makes you feel crappy man, especially when you work hard to save up for something only to have it break on you so you're forced to start the cycle over again.

    I don't even bother owning a printer, since I hardly ever have the need to print anything. If needed, I use the one at the library and pay .10 cents a page, and let them deal with buying replacement ink (another conspiracy) and obsolescence. I hardly need to print, so even if I print 100 pages a year it's still only $10 without the need for all the other headaches. Probably what you would spend on ink/toner anyway, in addition to the printer. If I need something professional printed for business use (flyers, signs, business cards, posters) I just use a online commercial printing site.

    While technological improvements DO often require you to upgrade, it should be a personal choice rather than a necessity due to inferior product quality and workmanship.

    In regards to clothes, it's best to spend more money on a more expensive pair of dress shoes for example, and simply have them re-soled as they wear out. In the long run, it's actually cheaper than buying average-priced shoes that you can't resole that wear out and are then useless.

  • Kateye70

    Not everyone is monolingual.

  • http://twitter.com/HeathrCalifrnia Heather Wade

    Not everyone is multilingual.
    We all knew this was going on though... or suspected it in the least. I'm going to go looking for that Russian printer program right now! :)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FAXLPH6L37CZVN4UIKURKP7K24 Kevin

    nice fill me in on this free world of electronics

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Huang/625248241 Kevin Huang

    The documentary is rather interesting. I do not dispute that this is not happening, but if our daily technology is to improve to better our daily lives, than companies require to invest in research and development. When a product developed to last forever, and consumer refuse to purchase new advance replacement. Companies do not have funds to invest in new technology development, this might in terms slow down the development of new and advance products.

    A good example is cars, if we all drives a built to last gas guzzler cars produced back in the 80's and refuse to purchase new and advance cars, where do you think car manufactures have money to develop new environmental friendly cars? If we do not continue to improve, we will always like in a stone age. ie. Would any of ladies consider wearing a mono built to last panty hose produce from the 60's or consider lace pantyhose?

    As an old saying goes, what comes around goes around.

  • eyecandy_babydoll

    @ Kevin Huang. That's a pretty backwards way of looking at things. The documentary shows how planned obsolescence kills innovation and development (the very things you said would hold back if this cyclical process of waste continues). Let's see, industry killed long lasting light bulbs, electric car, long lasting nylon. Hmm.. sounds like STOPPING innovation and progress to me!

    The environmental resources (fresh water, precious metals, arable land, cheap energy (crude oil), cheap plastics (also from crude oil)) is FINITE - meaning it is limited in amount and will run out. You assume that this planet's resources will go on forever - it doesn't with the explosion of human population to continue. What will your grandchildren think of you when they have no oil to make cheap plastic products because people in our generation used it all up? What will the children of Ghana think of you when they're old and dying from cancer because of all the waste products dumped on their land?

    Oh I see, that's just part of your version of "progress". Yes it's progress to spend up all the resources, dump rubbish in third world countries, make products that break down quickly, piss customers off, waste finite energy to make the products and all that so you can make some money. I must be in an upside down world, where reverse Darwinism reigns supreme!

    You talk about cars? How about we talk about something that has lasted in my family for generations: heirloom furniture that has lasted over 100 years and still usable, still stylish and sturdy - not cheap, weak China-made MDF furniture which only lasts for a couple of years. I'm sick and tired of crap from China that breaks down after a year or two.

    Getting rid of planned obsolescence won't stop progress, it will excel progress and improve innovation in a different and SUSTAINABLE direction.

    Our ancestors tried to make as durable products as possible prior to the 1920's. Many of those products are still around today - like buildings. Heaven forbid that today's buildings also have a planned obsolescence! You would be stupid to want to live in a house like that. But then, people like you Kevin would say those buildings are architectural progress.

  • http://www.facebook.com/babino.tartar Boris Tesla

    watch the venus project and see how it goes without mindless waste

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_M6F3RJVEWJ24QKMCHFNVK7ADVE Winston Smith

    this system is doomed one way or the other. lets just hope we dont suck down the whole planet with it.

  • Earthwinger

    @ Kevin Huang - You put forward an interesting argument, but I think that perhaps you're underestimating one of the key characteristics of humankind, and it's the very characteristic that brings us all to this amazing site.....curiosity!

    When Einstein formulated his theory of relativity, he wasn't motivated by profit. Nor were Watson and Crick, when they worked out the structure of DNA. I could go on and on here and list a whole load of scientific advances that were not even remotely driven by market forces, but I'm sure that you get the point. The history of humanity is one of scientific discoveries and advances, constantly driven by our seemingly innate curiosity, and the one thing that has stymied those advances time and time again, is the marketplace. This documentary illustrates that point perfectly.

  • cowboy_helicopter

    Think about it this way, Dr. Huang, if I built a time machine today and went to the future where the society had used up all the fissionable materials (plutonium, uranium, etc.), How would I fix my flux capacitor if it broke? The answer is, I wouldn't, and consequently would forge an alliance with the powerful morloks, trading my skills in innovation and non-light sensitivity, for food (dessicated Elio) and security. The other option would be to join the latest consumer good, the Elio (AKA HUMANITY). Is that what you and your communist overlords want Kevin? A dystopian society of segregation and cannibalism, because that's where planned obsolescence will lead us.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZMK6YNWJACHQ5CRCJW5TNYFURI KsDevil

    But I like working on ever increasing tehcnologies. I tire easily of old technology. Been there, done that, need something to keep me interested. Really, if I have to work on the same old design no matter how efficient and knowledgable I get about it, it seems like a dead end to me. My brain needs some form of obsimence to keep thing alive and fresh. Granted, there should be a comfortable length of time a product remaon relavent and some corporations can take that too far, but eventually, we all must evolve.

  • Vandermoore

    A very good and interesting documentary. I highly recommend it.
    On the comments and critique: The argument that obsolescence is needed to stimulate growth and development is, I feel, a flawed one. Firstly, because I often have the feeling development is deliberately slowed in the service of planned obsolescence. Surely energy and oil companies have green alternatives to fossil fuels, but why would they put them on the market when they are still making major profits on oil.
    Secondly, people will always, even without planned obsolescence, want newer/hipper/fancier/better stuff, and thus development will go on. The real problem of course is that even people who do not feel the need to have every new model of Ipod or whatever, such as myself, are forced to buy such items far too regularly, because they are not made to last. Cloths are a good example: while some people might revel in the latest fashion, or simply love shopping for clothes, I for one, simply need something to put on. Clothing these days however last barely a few months and I find myself forced to join the mindless masses in those forsaken stores, buying new chinese crap that again won't last till next year.
    Finally, I would like to point out that as long as there are people on this planet without any lightbulbs, iPods, nylons or printers, there will be a market for everlasting stuff. Perhaps by the time they've sold every person on earth a lightbulb that shines for a 100 years, the first will have expired.

  • Nakor420

    Am I supposed to speak 4 languages in order to watch this thing?

  • Vandermoore

    Being Dutch I learned both French and German, and the Scandinavian language of the subtitles, which I believe to be Danish, bears enough resemblance to my language to make out the rest, and I can safely say one can easily watch this without getting what those few interviewed people say, as it is summarized or repeated by the narrator most of the time. No essentials are missed.

  • saneladin

    I DID kind of hope this was going to be about the lo energy lightbulb hoax, about how they were foisted upon us as a dumb down mechanism for the masses, stop them rioting in the streets et al, the frequency at which they oscillate being something Tesla would understand but none the less found it an interesting doc, I knew my printer hadn't just packed up, it was so obvious it was designed to fail - now i'm stuck with a new one i LOATHE, i slung the old epson out, which is a shame as i loved it really, cheap, cheerful never thought to look for a software crack. - i mean we're talking printers look at what they do with ocean liners. SS Canberra for example, electric ship, electic city (look it up) essentially a fully functioning town, own water, projection rooms, schoolrooms (if you like to call the officers mess a school room) church/libraries etc rolls into town on the last wave, pakistan, i think, without checking (its late) and the people who have never experienced such wonder have to take it apart??? why not just moor it up and charge them rent? oh yeah, they don't care - bohem!an grove, they cremated it there.....

  • saneladin

    many of the docs on here have content from non english speakers, bear with them they do give you the english in the end, one of the best docs on here, took me four starts to see it, can't recall its name.
    give any of them a few minutes - if your REALLY interested...if not i guess there's always porn! ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=57104713 Samuel Fetters

    Have you noticed how many "cafe" churches are buying tin cans for their "worship"? It's all about the lifecycle and maximizing interior design glamour in a minimal structure. It's what inspires our most stupid of people to "give to a good cause" (to untaxed evangelical swindlers) and "deduct" from their tax bill. I love our country's values system and how we subsidize clergy. Don't you?

    Roof warranties on these metal buildings is usually about 20 years.

  • Ssickpie

    Did you even pay attention to the arguments in the doc., or did you just feel like posting a comment without have seen the film? :)

  • Jack1952

    My point is that things will be difficult to change because of our dependence. Quite often its not the long term but the short term benefits that drive us. If the manufacturing job a person has is lost due to better products that last longer, that person will quite often feel that the built in obsolescence was better than not having a job. The uncertainty of a better future ten years from now may not seem all that attractive when there is no money to feed the family. A person will demand a job now, even if he must make a shoddy product to ensure financial security for their family . We all want an idyllic world. Day to day reality can be the biggest enemy in the fight for that world.
    My post is not really an argument. It is a statement from someone who has lost their job more than once due to factory shutdowns and knows what it feels like to worry about the immediate future.

  • jellybean8309

    ..you missed the whole point....this doc. is about 'Planned Obsolescence .... the deliberate shortening of product life span..'....has nothing to do w/ 'evolving'. So go ahead ,keep creativly inventing new long lasting products ..just don't deliberately plan for them to stop working!

  • jellybean8309

    Maybe your young and haven't watched alot of documentaries but this is pretty standard. Due to the fact the ppl being interviewed speak a different language ,they provide subtitles..plus the Narrator tells you what they are saying....thats what a Documentary IS.... " A work, such as a film or television program, presenting political, social, or historical subject matter in a factual and informative manner and often consisting of actual news films or interviews accompanied by narration."

    .....it's not a movie. This particular Doc. is obviously Narrated in English but was initially intended for a Dutch speaking audience,thus Dutch subtitles...Instead of complaining...we should say.."Thank You Top Documentary Films for putting this info. online for free!!!" and Thank God we can obtain knowledge and learn how to protect ourselves from the greedy bastards who are stealing our hard earned money!!!

  • Nakor420

    Yeah, all I ever watch are doc's, I don't need you to define them for me. It was obviously a joke. Why don't you take that stick out of your butt? You might be able to relax if you do.

  • mooncoyote

    @nakor420:
    ...or possibly you could learn to be less insulting with your posts and work on your joke-telling delivery instead. There's no place for that kind of language here.

  • Tabitha Mars

    I also had difficulty watching this because of the language barrier. While i got the general gist, I felt I didn't learn as much as I could have. In particular I wanted to hear from Segre Latouche, who was one of the sole commentators on de-growth but was unable to.

    Nakor made a valid point about not getting the most value out of the documentary and yet he/she is being criticised and told to go watch porn? I find that very rude.

  • tunelee

    thanks!! what a world we live in???

  • alakyang28

    the principle of obsolescence does not apply to my LEVI's... thank goodness!!!

  • Sergio Cruz

    Recycling programs... That's the answer... If the planned obsolescence didn't exist. We would never have better computers, cellphones, cars, etc. If cars were still all made in steel, not aluminium, nor other recycable product, imagine how could be recyclins. Surely the chip made to stop that Epson printer is the worst idea in harming the consumer. And the ideas for transfering trash from the developed countries to the developing ones is the worst from the wild capitalism, and corruption. I'm an optimistic, and i do think that internet is doing a revolution by informing, but we still need blackberries, iphones, etc to be kept informed in real time. Giving preference for products we know are made by recycable material and resposible with workers (such as Levi's :) ), environment, being not so much cunsumists, i think we can be rational and equilibrated in a planned obsolescence world.

  • Sergio Cruz

    Yeah! I think they should put that video with Portuguese subtitles... :)

  • Sergio Cruz

    Kidding. I agree with Vandermoore. I speak Portuguese, as native language, and i can understand Spanish due to that. I also speak French, but not German, and just from the English speaker/third person and the few sutitles one can have the main idea without the interviewed people comments... The comments from Serge Latouche were nice, but in most of his interview there were subtitles.

  • Hector Bravo

    It doesn't apply to the ones I bought in the nineties, but the pairs I have bought in the past few years wear out much more quickly!

  • PrebenThorsnes

    The subtitles are in Norwegian. This particular version of the documentary aired on NRK2, a Norwegian TV channel, and was also available for viewing on their website for some time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alex-Kuiumdjian/794325409 Alex Kuiumdjian

    This is an unsustainable form of future growth, how can you expect this world to be here in future generations to come with planned obsolescence raping and pillaging our natural resources and destroyed our environment. I'm not saying do not create the iphones, flat screen tv's, laptops. Just do it better, do it with an environment focus so our future generations can enjoy this as well.

  • http://twitter.com/umbrarchist umbrarchist

    But where is the DEPRECIATION of the so called durable consumer goods measured? When do we ever hear economists mention

    NET DOMESTIC PRODUCT ???

    Economists only compute the depreciation of CAPITAL GOODS so we are running the world on defective algebra.

  • dahnish1

    click cc on player and press translate captions BIATCH!

  • lokrates

    Many of us have experienced modern gadgets giving up just after one year when guaranty has expired. Later they increased to three years lifetime to be able to sell us insurances (e.g. extended guaranties) It is all under control.
    It is defined in ISO 9000: "Quality is what fulfills the definition of the one who commissions the product": So if a the commissioner defines this "what so ever" shall break down after 12 month and you deliver something that lasts 10 years it is NOT quality, it has to give up exactly after one year! So ISO 9000 does not not mean anything to you and me!
    The argument to keep workforce going is also stupid: double the lifetime of the product, double the price, produce half of it and let every body work half the time for the same salary. Without this system we really could have such a good life!
    Innovation: I think the speed of innovation is far to great, we need a speed limit! Why do you think all of the sudden so may people "burn out". They can't keep track, it is too much, they drive us mad.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Corn-Futch/1272281046 Corn Futch

    and it is simple because the corporate rich are misanthropic sociopaths, we simple cannot have the beasts of the field enjoying anything other than the heeling kiss of the boot of providence

  • wpsmithjr

    There are several things that need to be done in order to solve our sustainability dilemma...

    #1 People need to know there is a dilemma. This would have to come from changes in our media... and our educational systems. Right now, most people listen to corporate media and go to public schools... neither of which tells us the truth about REAL history or the corporate agenda's affect on our lives.

    #2 Emphasis needs to be placed on making quality products that last. This won't happen as long as the people remain dumbed down and brainwashed into believing that we can continue to consume at this rate and not have problems.

    #3 Emphasis needs to be placed on conservation. I'm 44 years old, and my parents were older when they gave birth to me. I can remember my grandparents being VERY frugal people. (They would be over 100 years old now if they were still living.) They had money... they weren't poor at all... but they would NEVER consider spending that money on the nicest, newest, overpriced gadgets... and they never threw anything away. (They grew up during the depression era.) They still had a garden for food (in the 1980's) even though they could buy whatever they wanted from the grocery store. They even saved old rubber bands and popsicle sticks which we (the grandkids) loved to play with when we came to visit. You can build all kinds of cool stuff with popsicle sticks, rubber bands and elmer's glue. Cheap fun. We didn't have to have the newest plastic "Transformers" toy in order to have fun. We played with sticks.

    #4 We need to put more emphasis back on the family unit, and taking care of one another...instead of the emphasis being on getting ahead or having more stuff than the next person. Everyone is so busy trying to afford their Lexus SUV that no one care about each other any more. If people were frowned upon for being wasteful, like they are frowned upon now for not having the newest cell phone... there would be much less waste in the world.

    Notice all of the suggestions above have to do with the GENERAL MINDSET AND EDUCATION of the people. You will not solve this problem with government intervention or laws. People must change their mindset.

    The economy may be affected, but in the end it would be better. You wouldn't have to work so hard to afford the newest gadgets... because the old gadgets would be much better and last much longer. Life would be simpler... but would that be so bad?

    Like he said... not back to the stone age... just back to the 1960's.

  • wpsmithjr

    Yeah... I'm 44 and my parents were older when they gave birth to me. I inherited some of my grandmother's old furniture. Solid hardwood with dove-tailed construction. It's in my baby's room now... 4th generation and still going strong. Not even showing the slightest signs of being old even. I bought a particle board entertainment center from Wal mart just a few years ago and it looks like it could cave in at any minute.

  • wpsmithjr

    Why would you need to be employed? How much money would you need if you didn't have to re-buy stuff all the time? If you didn't have to constantly replace things....and the things you bought lasted for generations... why would you need so much money? The lack of jobs would be made up for by the lack of need to buy new things.

  • Jack1952

    We all need to be employed. Food and shelter does not fall into our laps. It may not be the traditional manufacturing job but it does not seem to matter what the world situation has been throughout our history, one thing has always been certain. People have had to work and work hard just to provide ourselves with the basics. In the past when a group of primitive hunter gathers did find a land of plenty, populations would explode and the plenty would disappear. Outsiders would also move in because they were in need and there would either be violence or the resources would be depleted. And the daily grind for survival continues.

    A lot of the things that we buy over and over are not necessities. We feel that they are but that is as much due to social pressure than a real need. What is needed is food, water and shelter. These must always be replenished or maintained and its back to the daily grind.

  • Jack1952

    I would think even if you try to maintain an older piece of equipment you are always looking for ways to improve it so it will run more efficiently and would be easier to fix next time it broke down.

    It is frustrating when you buy a part for something and the part costs as much as the something. The cost to replace all the parts is always greater than the cost of original product.

  • LIVEFROMLIMBO

    same with my ikea stuff...its like made of cardboard wood or something

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_U3XSX2Y4TKNFLGZEQURSEACNTQ Keeper Coach

    english version with over dub or english subtitles?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7SMTJ7IQC74TSD5F74NYJOSY24 Rainmaker

    iPhone - a perfect example of Planned Obsolescence.

  • https://launchpad.net/~scottie scottie

    If african counties like ghana cant make use of them, they probably should ship the unusable scrap to manufacturers like China. Manufacturer countries would have the factories, skills and manpower to make use of them. Add in environmental controls and it would be complete.

    Manufacturers need to view e-scrap as a resource (and many probably do). And make the most of e-scrap instead of letting them rust away outdoors.

    From the video "Nature does not know waste, she only knows building materials."

    Dont get me wrong, we should still use something as long as possible. Making the most of the resources, ideas and effort that went into making the stuff provides more satisfaction both for the inventors, manufacturers (who have their brand names on the products), retailers (who can have confidence in the things they are selling) and consumers.

    Inspired by previous posts: We can be satisfied with less if we need to buy less things that last longer. We can choose quality. We can choose to be contented. We can build and work in channels that pass on these quality goods to others. We can have work fixing things, making things from old ones, keeping things and people clean and healthy, meeting each other's need, working as a team, providing nourishment to others.

    New things are still welcome, for example harnessing energy from typhoons, tsunamis and earthquakes, or ways of being able to meet these natural occurrences such that there will be little damage or loss of life.

    There is a need to make things more efficient and last longer, for as we all know, the human population is increasing. Let's welcome that and adapt our old ways of thinking.

  • greenthc57

    There IS an alternative. Read Longer Lasting Products, edited by Tim Cooper and published by Gower in 2010. We just need enough people to demand the necessary cultural shift...

  • batvette

    "They even saved old rubber bands and popsicle sticks which we (the grandkids) loved to play with when we came to visit. You can build all kinds of cool stuff with popsicle sticks, rubber bands and elmer's glue. Cheap fun. We didn't have to have the newest plastic "Transformers" toy in order to have fun. We played with sticks."

    Yeah, buddy... I used to have a great design for making a would be switchblade, sharpen the end of the stick and stab my little friends with it. Woo hoo, the good old days, now that would get you expelled.

    How about toothpicks and paper, we used to make a little evil knievel effigy and blow on it and he'd fly off a magazine ramp and burst into flames if you could sneak away some of dad's matches he used to light his pipe with.

    Even store bought toys were much simpler and fun, we didn't have these extreme sports, if you wanted a trip to the hospital just pull out the family's set of lawn darts, put the blindfolds on and start tossing away! Never seen grandma run so fast!

  • batvette

    Haha I used to think that, then about 10 years ago someone GAVE me their used HP Deskjet 841C and by golly that little bugger prints as good today as it did the day I got it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bqaryouti Bilal Al-Qaryouti

    This is why the world should adopt Resource Based Economy.

  • HUMMDRUMM

    Educate your kids so the change in the future will be iminent .

  • http://twitter.com/jimmy6p jimmy kraktov

    Computer inkjet printers were (still are?) sold at a loss and the manufacturers made money selling their own brand of replacement ink cartridges, for a LOT more than they were worth. Some U.S. States went after these companies because they were telling their customers that the "no name" refills were inferior, and could even void your warranty. Independent testing proved that the "name brand" and "no name" inks were in fact identical. I was buying ink cartridges for $10 when the "brand name" was $70. The same damned ink!!

    I was once in a checkout line at Staples and the guy behind me had 6 Epson printers in his cart, all the same. I asked him if they were for gifts, or a raffle or work and he told me that he threw them out when they were empty because a new printer was less than half the price of refilling the empty ones. I told him about the cheap ink being the same stuff but he didn't seem to believe me. On my way home I started to laugh when I realised that the Epson people were losing money on that guy, and wondered how many others were doing the same thing. If you were convinced that the cheap ink was no good, I guess it made sense.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Q5U2Z7DIDDHWPYXSRJOYIZQR74 S. Wolf

    Just one of the reasons why I still have a 20-year-old, plugged in the wall phone. Still works. Why should I get another?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/?????-????/100002658367702 ????? ????

    Good film, very thought provoking and well presented. Could have easily lapsed into paranoid conspiracy territory, but didn't - so it made it's point more effectively. Some English subtitles wouldn't go astray though - would have liked to get the interview subjects in their own words rather than just paraphrased by the narrator.

  • http://www.facebook.com/christer.karlsen Christer Karlsen

    it is Norwegian

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Duncan/535485993 Paul Duncan

    Highly doubtful they are losing money on that guy. They do not fill the ink even near full on new printers. That guy is a fool.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Duncan/535485993 Paul Duncan

    yeah because they are the only people in that industry that do that. Besides, its not even close to the same as this, as you are clearly getting a better product each time (faster/better screens, ect). With bulbs/printer carts, you are clearly NOT.

  • Birger_Skruddusvingen

    "This particular Doc. is obviously Narrated in English but was initially intended for a Dutch speaking audience,thus Dutch subtitles..."

    No, not Dutch but Norwegian!

  • beYOU

    dutch subtitles dont help me at all :/

  • Greg Corcoran Jr

    I want a money free society where everyone works for free 40hrs a week, 9 months out of 12, and all goods and services are free, financial jobs get displaced, but those brains are better suited for research and development, that will end wasteful products and promote the very best products. Big oil gets put in charge of alternative energy, we need oil for lubrication purposes, not fuel. If you want to hear more about my idea. Thank you.

    We're all equal here, because how is my struggle to survive any different than yours?

    Once money is removed from the equation 90% of crime and relationship problems go away. We'll all have a symbiotic relationship with our communities

  • Buck

    I love this film, ever since I saw it I have a greater sense of nostalgia for admiring old technology. I'm thinking I should stock up on older bulbs, I love the warm yellow light they give off.

  • Buck

    Great film, I love the old lightbulbs all warm and yellow. I hope they don't completely phase them out.

  • MentalSparring

    apples message is disingenuous... plain and simple

  • http://pavelnovel.com/ Pavel Konoplenko

    This is a great film. Definitely a top 5 for me. thanks for sharing.

  • John Mac Canna

    what is the link to the Russian software for printers in the video?

  • Dusan

    Great comment Greg! It really is.

  • Leah

    Are you serious? You think dumping America's electronic waste to China will help the situation in any way, shape, or form? First of all, who would pay the workers and factories in China to recycle the electronic waste? China certainly won't and don't deserve to fund for cleaning up after us (i.e. Western world). And you really think America would bother shipping e-waste all the way across the Pacific just to pay more money to recycle it and be responsible about it? Secondly, recycling is expensive and a convoluted process. Without an organization system and concerted effort by consumers in America to sort the electronic waste, it will extremely difficult and expensive to recycle. And how do you propose on implementing environmental controls? You're suggesting that a country should dump their waste into another's and then to enforce environmental controls on the newly-waste-ridden country to drain their resources to follow environmental controls set by the very people who littered their land for no purpose but their own selfishness? That's bullshit.

    And you can preach all you want about what we "should" or "should not" do as consumers and we should buy products that last long, blah blah blah. But trust me, we as consumers are wildly flawed and taken advantage of by the big companies. Even you will probably preach all that goodness today, but then go out tomorrow and buy some pretty/cool thing you don't really need. If you've ever had a collection of anything... there we go. Unnecessary, frivolous, brainwashed sense of need. If we really want to change the system, it's really about getting the people in charge of it, the people in power, to implement change. It's about changing the messages that the media relays, enforcing legalities onto corporations, and generally getting the state involved in halting unsustainable consumerism. If the state or some larger non-profit organization power is not involved, businesses will only see their own short-term gain, but never the long-term impact on our world and home, and we as consumers are, 99% of the time, powerless but to follow.

  • bigbearbland .

    Ponder this. How do you think that the great arts were made before there were lightbulbs? Have you ever contemplated light refraction and amplification through mirrors? It is how all the masters painted, how the common lived and how we will all find ourselves. My kids loved it when I showed it to them. Everything Old is Made New Again

  • Alex McFarlin

    Great Movie! Really hard to find though. I can't imagine there's a single American advertiser that wants this thing to hit the airwaves.

  • Dick Lipski

    Greg, I suppose you don't believe there should be private property, so give me your computer. I need it more than you do.

  • Jama

    That's weird, it changed languages midway.

  • Tom F. Nucker

    No. The iphone IS the perfect example of planned obsolesence. Apple is striving to make the battery more difficult to replace by every new iphone model.It really is the best example out there.

  • Aaron Wolf

    That's a totally stupid supposition. Greg didn't say anything about rejecting private property.

  • Dick Lipski

    When everything is "free," there will be no private property. If everything is "free," the state will have to control how much "free" stuff people will be allowed to have. You will not be allowed to decide what or how much you have of anything.

  • Aaron Wolf

    Sorry, Dick, but your claims don't hold up to evidence. There have existed human societies in which there was no money and there was still private property. You would find it interesting to study more anthropology and understand the wide range of possible ways societies can be organized.

  • Dick Lipski

    Aaron, where money doesn't exist, it will be created. Money is a representation of debt.

    Name a modern society where there is no money and there is private property as we understand it.

  • Aaron Wolf

    The fact that you can't really find anyone today who is totally separated from modern society (other than some isolated tribes in the Amazon rainforest) is not useful evidence of what is possible. Money is indeed a representation of debt, and it is likely to be created in many societies, but it can take many forms.

    For the record, I think Greg's idea of total abolition of money is naive and impossible. I just think the range of actual possibilities is broad enough that we don't need to assume that private property relies on money as we know it. The evidence from anthropology is that there's a vast range of ways money can be structured. Check out "Debt: The First 5,000 Years" by David Graeber.

  • http://is.gd/paleo Edward

    But it's gone now...

  • yce_me

    Sounds good until you realize that everyone has the same exact luxury, no matter how hard they work for it, or how important is their job for the community / society;

    This means no one would care about doing a more difficult job because it pays better. Why becoming a doctor or an engineer and have a stressful career if you can just sell ice-cream, for example?

    Where would this lead? Communists tried something similar, except they didn't eliminate currency, but limited wage differences. An engineer earned 20% more than the cleaning lady. It looks like it didn't work.

    Except for all these essential aspects, i kind of like the idea too, but we have to assume that all people are honest and sacrifice their personal interest for the best of the community, and we are an individual animal, unlike ants or bees. It wouldn't work;

    Cheers!

  • ghpacific

    The Livermore light bulb never failed also because it was never turned off and on, it is on a circuit that is always hot. Moving it to the new firehouse was a real feat. Great documentary.

  • Kristoffer Hestad

    I think Life on earth has really great potential, If just the people sitting in the power positions die away and the ones taking their places are more interested in the well being of humanity than their own egocentric selves. I can understand that the people on top back in the days had a pure ego-driven business plan, but now every one can afford what is more than enough luxury and you don't have to own the whole world to be of wealth.

    I really think we should combine our resources, Because we are clearly good at pretty much everything. The problem is just that we repeatedly work so hard not to work together, which is a total shame, as we are all of the same kind living on the very same planet. And its a total shame that the greed for money is rapidly destroying the future for both human life on earth as well as the animals on earth (which I feel has ever more rights , as they do not do **** to **** this once really nice planet up)

    It's time for the human race to prove that we are not just total i*iots that crashes the car into a mountain side 5 minutes after getting our drivers license... And by that I mean totally destroying the earth and the ambition it has to obtain life right after we gained some technological knowledge, which we really should use to make this place better than naturally intended...

  • geo1671

    New overpriced LEDs are great.Great energy savers. Last a life time. But the miniature florescent electronic bulbs do not last long . Electronic high voltage producing components are housed sealed tight.No means of heat escape. Caution in using them--fire hazard.
    Do not have them without a enclosure fixture. Such bulb caught on fire over the bed and mattress started a major fire.No joke!

    Stick with LEDs--great product.

  • coryn

    So why did my LED stop working? I used it as a porch light and one day it didn't work anymore. What other problems do they have?

  • Jacek Walker

    Yes, scientists are curious and imaginative by nature contrary to manufacturers.
    Owners of big companies and corporations are by nature greedy, which also explains why they sacrifice most of their life to making profits. No hope with them for any innovation unless it is driven by potential profits.
    So as usual everything in the hands of scientists, artists and the likes.

  • Jacek Walker

    You're right. And most people are already mad only that pathology has become so common that nobody regards it as madness anymore. They call it "the speed of modern life" or words to that effect.
    One of key wordsto it is a work-life balance, which was also the main reason why I dropped my last job of an average 10 - 11 hours a day duration. Enough is enough.
    This world is not crazy, as some try to decorate it with a funny sounding word similar to a crazy trip or a crazy little party.
    No, this world is insane.

  • Jacek Walker

    I totally agree. Only what you call mindset, I call consciousness.
    And as to government intervention ? ! Hahhah!! Don't even start with me on that...they are part of the problem not a solution.

  • Jacek Walker

    "...China certainly won't and don't deserve to fund for cleaning up after us (i.e. Western world)..."
    Certainly not. Soon they will have enough junk of their own making to clean up after. Right now they are just a bit lagging behind "the civilzation"... ;)

  • bluetortilla

    I have an Apple laptop, an ipad, and an iphone. I bought them all second-hand in a recycle shop in China. I felt pretty good about it. Now I find that the ipad and iphone are horrible devices. Any software I add, Apple gets a chunk out of. But the computer is nice. When the ugly periph's die, I'm going to get a very simple phone and stick with a used laptop running Linux on it.
    I've repaired lots of computers. I kept the original imac going for nearly 15 years until I just got too board with it. You'd be amazed at how easy it is to fix hardware. The hard part is getting the right part. There are a lot of people on the net out there that will help you though. Buy little, throw away even less. Give old things to kids who can't afford them. Be frugal and be generous.

  • christ2

    The Venus Projects "Resource Based Economy" is the solution to this BS(Bad Science)

  • Marcus Andersson

    As you said yourself you used it on your porch, which I take means it was outside. As with any hardware it could simply be that that specific LED you bought could not survive it's average lifetime in that specific environment. Or that you bought an LED not made for outside use. Or that your socket output wasn't ideal for that particular LED. 25000 hours does not mean 25000 hours -in any condition without exception-.

  • InvisibleHandInMyPants

    So its you who raised hell when the US government tried to move toward the new longer life energy efficient light bulbs. Your gop congressmen took up your battle too. There is a conspiracy behind every locked door for some people. Just DIAF.

  • http://blog.monstuff.com Julien Couvreur

    The documentary claims that the Phoebus cartel "pressured" member companies, and fined them. How? Did they hire goons to beat them up?
    If you are able to make a better lightbulb, then you have much to gain from undercutting the cartel and trying to gain marketshare for yourself.

    A more general comment on the documentary is that it uses two different definitions of planned obsolescence. One is that the product is designed intentionally to fail earlier than necessary (who decides what is "necessary" btw?). The other is that the product is designed to be more desirable than previous products.
    Using those two interchangeable made the narrative rather confusing at times.

    Finally, I am quite suspicious of stories and arguments that do not acknowledge trade-offs. You could probably make an ipod with a longer battery life, but it would be bigger and more expensive. You could have a replaceable battery (like some competitors did), but it would not be as beautiful and solid.
    If the East German lightbulbs (from 1981) or the communist fridges were so great in terms of trade-off, then you'd expect they would sell. The fact that nobody apparently wants them should tell you something.

  • http://blog.monstuff.com Julien Couvreur

    I'm curious if anyone who agrees with this documentary buys disposable diapers.
    What is a better illustration of planned obsolescence than a single-use product?

  • Alte Elbe

    "The fact that nobody apparently wants them should tell you something."

    What do you mean "nobody wants them"? Where can you get a late Cold War era fridge or a washing machine in mint condition?

    Also, they clearly said in the documentary that the lifespan of these products in the Soviet bloc was set at 25 years. The Soviet bloc ceased to exist in 1989, which makes it... Bingo: 25 years! How would you make a complaint of the "nobody apparently wants them" sort in this context?

    It was also stated that the Soviet bloc economy was one of permanent supply shortage. Which means there were not that many of those household appliances on the market as you'd imagine. And if there were less than what was needed to meet the demand then, it logically follows there are even less of them today.

    Back to the phrase "nobody apparently wants them" - I disposed of my DONBASS fridge only two years ago, after 28 years of non-stop service. A piece of circuitry (an actuator or whatchamacallit) broke down which controls the on-and-off action of the compressor. I was told I could buy it at the equivalent of $50 but what with my desire to get a larger capacity fridge and the "green" marketing that said those new products used a fraction of the energy my DONBASS was using at the time, I scrapped the good ol' fridge and bought a modern no-frost miracle. And d'you know what? This new refrigerator runs only a tad more quietly, but now and then gives me moldy food - which never (repeat: never) happened in the 28 years with the previous unit. Oh, and it never, not for one day, went out of service. I didn't buy a single spare part, I never needed to call for assistance. Only the interior light bulb burned. So, if I could buy a larger version of my old fridge, I would definitely prefer it to the new one.

    I can write a much similar story with regard to my washing machine - three years junior to the DONBASS. In the course of all those years I only replaced a few mechanical parts (bearings - once, a couple of seals, the control dial circuit and maybe a few minor things I can't remember). True, it developed a few rusty spots and it would give me an occasional light shock due to tricky grounding... As with the fridge though, I succumbed to the idea of having a sleek, modern, quiet and energy-efficient appliance that would spare me the occasional trouble of looking under the hood of the old washer (oh, the laziness of man - or the principle of least effort, maybe?). So I went this year for a product by Apple's former engineer, a Mr Sung. Well, is this thing quieter? No. Washes better? Can't really say, hard to compare washing effectiveness when the programmes don't match. Would I buy a new replacement of the old model, built to the same standard of durability, if it were available? Yes.

    You see, many of the old appliances - again: the last of which were manufactured in 1989 - have been scrapped over the last 25 years, i.e. since the crumbling of the old ideological divide. Some were disposed of because they'd failed (not all batches were equally good; it also depended on the fluctuations in local politburo policy and availability of resources at various times; speaking from experience: the best products were those available prior to the mid-1980s because later the imminence of system collapse began sending ripples which were reflected in a significant deterioration of build quality), some because the owners merely wanted a different product. But some may still be around, cherished by their owners.

    Glad if I could be of help.

    PS. I don't get your complaint about the apparently confusing aspect of there being two approaches to planned obsolescence. The documentary lays it out pretty straightforwardly: there's planned obsolescence as in designing a product to fail after a set time period/number of use cycles (even though it could easily last much longer without incurring any significant direct cost upon the manufacturer), and there's planned obsolescence as in marketing a new, more attractive and in other ways advantageous product hot on the heels of its predecessor, enticing the consumer into buying always the latest (=the best) of everything. While there's no inherent immorality in the latter approach, there's a danger it may develop into the former, if people stick with the good products they already have and, in consequence, sales figures in the manufacturers' offices drop. A mutation of this, I think, was illustrated in the Apple case. Apple may have always wanted to supply the best product, but when they thought a second-gen (=better) iPod would soon follow in the wake of the first-gen device, why bother about a long-life battery in the original model? There was a trap in that shortcut and they fell right into it.

  • Amaranth

    That's OK, then. The subtitles are Norwegian.

    Later the English turns into Croatian. Dutch still won't help.

  • Amaranth

    And some of the interviews are in German.

  • Jeremy Lake

    Do they buy toilet paper?

  • nacoran

    You can make an incandescent bulb that will last longer, but it will not be as energy efficient. That is the trade off, and that's always been the tradeoff. Light bulbs are cheap enough to make that the real cost of the light bulb is the cost of the electricity over it's lifetime. They are also cheap enough that if you raise the price much to make a better light bulb you won't get many people buying your fancy light bulbs, at least not until the light bulb gets much better, like CFL's that last several times longer and use 1/3 of the power, or LEDs which are expected to last nearly 20 years and use 1/3 of the power of CFLs. There was no conspiracy, just no driving force to improve a fairly decent, cheap product. No driving force until the government started setting tougher energy standards. Now, for a couple bucks more (and falling) we can get a bulb that lasts nearly two decades and uses just over a tenth of the electricity an old bulb did. It cost a lot of money to research the new bulbs and there wasn't incentive until energy prices started going up and the federal government started mandating better efficiency. Score one for the feds applying beneficial market rules and letting capitalism take it from there.

    As for most electronics, again, it's a cost benefit analysis. If I can make a phone that will last for 10 years or a phone that will last for 5 years, and it costs me half-again as much to make the longer lasting one it would seem like a good idea to do it- except, even if it's in perfect working order a 10 year old phone isn't going to be able to run the newest apps. The technological life cycle of these devices is fairly short.

  • bill_christian

    nocoran is correct, but understates the issue. 95% of the cost of running an incandescent light bulb for an hour is electricity. It is SIMPLE to make a bulb last 100 years (just put the right size resistor in series with it to lower filament temperature and drastically lower light output). Here's what that will do. Now, to run a 100 W bulb for 24 hours, it costs you 1 cent for the bulb with short life plus 23 cents for electricity. The new 100 year bulb that puts out the same amount of light will cost essentially zero for bulb cost, plus 55 cents for electricity. That would be a stupid choice fiscally, and it would be equally stupid environmentally because you'll burn 2.3 times as much fossil fuel. The "govmint" has passed efficiency laws to keep us from doing this stupid thing, to prevent sale of extremely wasteful bulbs to people who do not understand the real cost. The reason for the above is that bulb life and efficiency are DIRECTLY tied together. The hotter the filament, the more efficient, but the shorter the lifetime. No way around this has been found after 135 years of work. Bulbs have improved only slightly with a few details. The basic issue has not changed. This story about a conspiracy is loony, by people who do not understand this basic issue.

  • bill_christian

    Not true. On-off has minimal effect. Lots of new bulbs are left on 24/7 and die on schedule after 1000 hours. That bulb has lasted because its filament is not very hot. So it is terribly inefficient, In 110 years of operation, they could have bought 800 bulbs at 50 cents, $400, to save $8000 in electricity (both at today's cost, no big error in logic). I would have thrown that thing in the trash on day one and gotten a more efficient one (they had them back then). Am I the only person in the world who understands how a light bulb works?

  • bill_christian

    Much of it appears true. But the light bulb part is completely and utterly false, loony, which very seriously harms the documentary. I don't know much about the rest of the issues, so it makes me wonder if they aren't totally loony on those as well.

  • chris

    Manufacturer defect? I have plenty of LEDs and havent replaced them since i bought them. Been 5 years and still burning bright!