June 15, 2021

Make Durability Important Again

I wish durability were as important as it used to be.

We have an Oster food processor that I would guess is from the late 70s or early 80s. It still works fine, although it's frighteningly large (it could be a robot from Silent Running). We also inherited from my grandparents a Hamilton Beach model 33 milkshake mixer that is at least from the 50s, if not the 40s.

I can't think of any recent appliance purchase that would survive 40 years like the Oster, let alone 70 or 80 years (!) like the Hamilton Beach.

Part of the problem is that most everything nowadays is electronic rather than simply electric. Everything (regardless of whether it actually benefits from it) has integrated circuits and SoCs, not to mention touchscreens and wi-fi antennae. Hardware failure is no longer the only concern. We now have to add software to the mix, and not just any software but rather a maze of proprietary embedded systems that are unfixable for all but the most expert.

I don't see those "features" going away anytime soon — they're seemingly a big enough draw for customers, and the guaranteed obsolescence probably helps increase sales. But I do wish consumers put greater stock in how long things last. Maybe with enough pressure, durability would become a priority for manufacturers again.

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