Planned obsolescence of the LED


tay
#1
In 1924, representatives of the world's leading lightbulb manufacturers formed Phoebus, a cartel that fixed the average life of an incandescent bulb at 1,000 hours, ensuring that people would have to regularly buy bulbs and keep the manufacturers in business.

But hardware store LED bulbs have a typical duty-cycle of 25,000 hours -- meaning that the average American household will only have to buy new bulbs ever 42 years or so.

The lighting industry is panicked about "socket saturation," when all household bulbs have been replaced with long-lasting LED bulbs. There's signs that they're moving to limit the longevity of LED bulbs, albeit without the grossly illegal cartels of the Phoebus era. Philipps is seling $5 LED bulbs that have a 10,000 hour duty-cycle. Many no-name Chinese LED bulbs are so shoddy that they're sold by the kilo, and buyers are left to sort the totally defective (ranging from bulbs that don't work at all to bulbs that give people electrical shocks) from the marginally usable ones.

JB MacKinnon's excellent New Yorker piece tells the story of planned obsolescence and home lighting, but only skims the surface of the Internet of Things future of "smart" bulbs.

It's been less than a year since Philips pushed out a firmware update (external - login to view) that gave its light fixtures the ability to detect and reject non-Philips lightbulbs -- and thanks to laws like the DMCA, which have metastasized in the IoT era, it's a potential felony to alter your light fixture to override this behavior and force it to work with non-Philips bulbs.

The "smart hardware" companies are operating on razor-thin margins, with less than a year of runway before they run out of investment capital, selling products with 42-year duty cycles. They face knockoff competition from China that can force them into negative margins -- selling at less than cost -- and their only hope of survival is to be acquired before the money runs out.

The L.E.D. Quandary: Why There’s No Such Thing as “Built to Last” - The New Yorker (external - login to view)
 
Tecumsehsbones
+1
#2  Top Rated Post
Sounds to me like a good idea. There can't be no doubt that the lighting technology of 15 years from now will be better and more efficient than today's. Sounds like the industry has found an answer to people like the terrified little whiners who pissed and moaned endlessly about being "forced" to accept a superior product when incandescents went down the drain.

It takes a true lefty to see an EEE-vil conspiracy in this.
 

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