Friday, March 31, 2006

Serial Purchases

Madame X wrote an interesting post today about the 10 year anniversary of the Palm Pilot. Since 1998, she has contributed to the success of the Palm OS platform by purchasing 15 of the devices. That averages out to more than one per year. And she also keeps a spare. So, that got me to thinking about disposable products, serial purchases and planned obsolescence and how that all plays into our consumerist mentality. For example, one of my co-workers is on a short-term assignment in Singapore, told me that folks over there buy prepaid cell phones and then toss them after the minutes have been used up (think overflowing landfills). And if you’re a serious runner, you need to replace your shoes every couple of months or so.

But even if a product isn’t designed by the manufacturer to wear out or break after a certain amount of time, it’s hard to resist the temptation to ‘upgrade’ and replace everything that we own. We all want the latest and greatest.

I confess that I’m a serial purchaser when it comes to computers. I’ve owned (or partially owned) at least 3 laptops and 5 desktops, going all the way back to 7th grade when our family purchased an Apple IIe. That might not sound like a lot compared to other gear heads. But in my mind, a personal computer is still a luxury…something I don't really need…because I always had access to a second computer, whether through work or school. I'm sitting here typing this post on my new laptop, but my work laptop is sitting there in the other room. As a point of comparison, my best friend just purchased her first computer 3 years ago. And even then, it was a used computer that she bought off of a friend of a friend.

So, my question to you is this... are you a serial purchaser? If yes, what to buy and replace every year? Is it your cell phone, car, computer, TV or PDA?

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