Psychological planned obsolescence is far more interesting than the conspiratorial “planned obsolescence” often attributed to Apple in their development of the iPhone, not least because it’s irrefutably real. Why make a new phone every year? Honestly asking that question inevitably leads one to the conclusion that it is because Apple’s wants more money, and it is only in the customers interest as a result of having been psychologically primed to want the newer, shinier thing.
It started with the manufacture of cars wherein suddenly it was necessary to develop vehicles in new colours and with minor improvements just to keep getting money from the customer, and once these consumables had become more akin to fashion we have never looked back. Progress is obviously a net good, but why is infinite progress good? Why is the current frequency good? Better to ask perhaps if it is even “progress” as much as it is a move towards whatever will next illicit desire.
Progress necessarily means moving forward, and in cases like a faster iPhone this is true, but when we’re talking about a slightly faster iPhone in a new colour it becomes less clear as to why we needed that minor improvement right now rather than in 3 or 4 years when it is no longer slightly faster, but truly a product of half a decade of innovation.