Electronic Shelf-Life: Technologically Short or Manufacturer Conspiracy?

Here at Abnormal Use, we love electronics more than a pitcher of water at a chili pepper eating contest. That being said, there is nothing we hate more than learning our brand new electronics are outdated just a few short months after we open the box. How can we be expected to cope with an iPhone 5, knowing that others are using an iPhone 5s? It’s unfathomable. Nonetheless, we would never want to stand in the way of progress. Companies shouldn’t stop developing new technology – just slow down a bit after we purchase new things. But what if companies are intentionally selling obsolete products? That’s just what has been alleged in a new lawsuit.

Top Class Actions reports that a Wisconsin resident filed a class action against LG Electronics alleging that the company’s Blu-ray disc players were packaged with software that expired after a certain date, leaving the players unable to play discs released after the player’s purchase date. The complaint alleges that LG, Hitachi-LG Data Storage, and Cyberlink.com had a “planned obsolescence scheme,” conspiring to make the software obsolete. The Complaint states:

By bundling obsolete software with their [Blu-ray disc] players, defendants forced consumers to buy software upgrades, or to pay money or search for alternative software, and to incur installation hassle, computer damages, and other losses, in order to make reasonable use of the purchase.

By filing suit, the man seeks to represent all consumers nationwide who purchased LG, LGUS, and/or HLDS Blu-ray disc players bundled with discontinued CyberLink software from Feb. 8, 2008 to the present.

This type of suit is nothing new. We previously wrote about a similar suit against Apple regarding the power button on the iPhone 4. If there really is some “conspiracy of obsolescence,” then maybe this suit has legs. Without knowing all the facts, our hunch is that this is another case of technology advancing faster than the shelf-life of electronics. Unfortunately, much software and electronic devices are “obsolete” the moment they hit the shelves. Perhaps, LG can do more in the way of post-purchase software upgrades. However, based on the pleadings, it doesn’t appear that would completely satisfy the proposed class.

Again, we understand the frustration. We also understand, however, that all products age out eventually. Unfortunately, electronics are just ahead of the curve.

The suit is captioned Martin v. LG Electronics USA, Inc., et al., No. 3:15-cv-00083 (W.D. Wi. Feb. 8, 2014).

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