iFixIt CEO Kyle Wiens is suggesting that Apple is guilty of planned obsolescence in their machines. Gasp!  What!?! Well, no fooling; every manufacturer of goods plans for their stuff to break, be it cars, washing machines, refrigerators, televisions, or home electronics.  With the R&D cycle pushing new machines out the door every year or two for a cell phone, television, or disk player; 2-3 years for a major upgrade to a computer line, and 5 or so years for a car, it’s no surprise said manufacturers don’t want you hanging onto your old machines for much longer that that projected lifetime.

I’ve hung on to most of my vehicles past their warranty period (usually 3, 5, or 6 years) because they’re bloody expensive and increased safety regulations and other added costs make buying a new car more expensive every time you look at a new(ish) car.  For computers, I have a tendency to trade them out every three years of so to keep up with new interface technologies (USB 2 now 3, Blu-Ray or DVD instead of CD, etc.)  Usually, for that reason, I buy cheap on computers…which has led to problems with machines burning their motherboards after a year or two of heavy use (my Toshiba in 6 months, the HP tablet in 18 months.  Dells, however, I’ve had great luck with; I’ve never had a Dell die on me, I usually outgrew them.)

So it’s no surprise Apple wants you to buy a new MacBook every two or three years.  You iPad will be behind the times in three months when iPad 2 adds more processing power, memory, and cameras. There’s rumored to be an HDMI out and an SD Card reader (if the software to do it is there, I suspect you won’t be left behind there if you have the camera interface for SD cards.)  But really, until the battery life has collapsed at about 1000 charge cycles (say 2.5 to three years), there’s no reason to worry about it.  If you want to trade out the battery, it’ll be possible (they can sometimes do it for you right at the Apple Store is my understanding.

Wiens real problem is you can’t easily work on the Apple devices yourself — trade the SSD drive for a bigger one, since it’s part of the motherboard, can’t easily replace the battery or RAM.  If you need to tinker, and some do, don’t buy Apple.  And by the way, that screw they’re showing in the picture is not proprietary to Apple; it’s a f@#king TORX screw.  Not common, but still there are readily available screwdrivers for it. I’ve worked on my own computers, I’ve worked as a computer tech…most of the time it’s a good idea to leave the machine’s guts alone unless you have to change something out.

(The Tinkerer is a common subspecies of user of any technology that can’t leave things alone, often “improving” them to the point of being wholly unusable. [Ex. The front yard mechanic whose 1966 Mustang hasn’t moved under it’s own power ever and is rusting out under a tarp, or the home gunsmith that has to put that new spring and buffer into their 1911, then won’t switch back when the pistol jams like they’re trying to cycle rocks in it.]  Some people know what they’re doing…most don’t. You could say Apple’s saving curious users from themselves.)