Manufacturing standards then and now

Started 4 months ago | Polls thread
OldSchoolNewSchool Senior Member • Posts: 1,344
Re: Does "planned obsolescence" really work?

Marty4650 wrote:

Some products are attractive to consumers due to their reliability.

Cameras certainly are to some extent, but the best example might be cars. I remember many years ago when Toyota Corollas were outselling similar cars from Ford and Chevrolet primarily because customers wanted more reliable vehicles, and Toyota delivered on that promise.

At the time, the Corolla actually cost more than their American made rivals, and the American brand dealers were discounting their prices. But the Toyota dealers were jacking them up by adding a second "dealer sticker" with dubious options like undercoatings, paint sealers and upholstery protection coatings. But people wanted the more reliable car, even if they had to pay thousands more for it.

I think it might be a myth that companies get rich by selling defective products, so you will need to replace them sooner. I think companies get rich by selling good products that people want, and their products are well built and reliable. This is why no one will ever confuse a Corolla for a Chevette. The former was well built and reliable while the later was made of plastic and cardboard and didn't last as long as your car loan did.

And while reliability varies among camera makers, the variation isn't that big. If the most reliable had a 1% failure rate, the least might only have a 2% rate. It would still be the worst, but since it was also small other features and price would be more important for buyers. If someone built a camera with a 20% failure rate they would probably go bankrupt in six months.

In the end, the marketplace always decides. Manufacturers can save some money by using cheaper materials but they have to do it very carefully. If they go too far they go belly up. They will end up with no customers.

I suspect some companies may struggle with making a good product so people keep buying it, but not making it so good that it takes many, many years before needing replacement.  I think there is a fine line in finding the "sweet spot" of making a great product that needs to be replaced on a timeline that meets long-term company profitability without it appearing by the average consumer to be planned obsolescence.  Off the top of my head, no companies come to mind, but some companies probably do this balancing act pretty well, while others do not.  Of course that opinion will differ from consumer to consumer.

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