Planned Obsolescence

A couple of weeks ago I made an appointment with Apple to get the battery on an old Macbook Air replaced. I like that laptop a lot: the keyboard doesn’t suck, it actually has more than one external port, and it’s capable enough for work purposes. Still, Apple is Apple, and so the latest Xcode won’t run on it, and I do enough iOS development that that’s an issue. For the past few years, it’s been relegated to emergency/backup/remote learning use.

The plan was for our eldest to use it for school, since the Chromebook we bought last year kind of sucks. But, being an older machine, it needed a new battery if it was going to last the school day without needing to be plugged in. So, I made an appointment with Apple – I considered going the DIY route but figured that this would be simpler, and since it would guarantee not having to shell out for a new computer if I managed to brick it, the extra time/cost of having Apple replace the battery seemed worth it.

When I got to the Apple Store I was told that Apple considered the machine to be “obsolete,” and so they couldn’t even get a battery for this machine anymore. They only provide software support, not hardware. Annoyingly, when I made the appointment, specifically selecting the mid-2012 Macbook Air as the machine needing service, I was given no warning about obsolescence. It was only when the Apple employee showed me what she was seeing in my account that I noticed the little “OBS” tag beside the computer. For a company that cares so much about the user experience (or claims to, anyway), you’d think this information could have been provided upfront, when I was making the appointment, to save everybody some time.

So, I ended up going the DIY route, and was kicking myself after the fact for even bothering with Apple in the first place. I ordered the battery from Other World Computing, and it arrived in about a week. Replacing the battery was a piece of cake – it took me less time to do that than it took me to write this post. There’s no point in giving a detailed description of how I did it since it was so straightforward: remove the bottom case, unplug the battery, remove the battery, put in the new battery, put everything back together. Didn’t need a unplug a lot of extraneous stuff or do anything even mildly concerning.

And as it happens, the battery I bought fits Macbook Airs made from 2010 to 2017. It seems unlikely that a laptop from just four years ago is also “obsolete”, which just makes it all the more obvious that obsolescence is nothing more than a business decision on Apple’s part, and has no technological basis. All the more reason to try to squeeze as many more years out of that machine as possible, if it means not having to give Apple more money than I already do.

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