If a light bulb from 1901 is still working today, then why do regular light bulbs burn out so quickly?
The answer may just be “planned obsolescence” — the idea of intentionally designing a product that will ultimately break down, forcing consumers to return to the store to buy more.
A popular conspiracy among light bulb consumers is that companies designed lights that would burn out. Even if the glass and the base of the bulb are fine, a fragile filament can cause the light to burn out — forcing customers back to the stores to get more.
This idea of planned obsolescence runs counter to how things were 100-150 years ago. Farmers who purchased a plow for their land were making a one-time investment. As long as they treated the equipment right, there wasn’t a concern that it would break.
Buying a product that will last forever is great for the consumer. But it doesn’t equate to good business for the manufacturer — and that’s how planned obsolescence began. If the products broke over time, it would mean that consumers would need to return eventually to buy more.
The LED movement seems to be winning the battle against planned obsolescence — putting the power back in the consumer’s hands and placing higher-quality products on the market.