Category: art and design

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“do you mean to tell me that you are not going to replace the battery?”

On July 24th of this year I took my iPhone to the Apple store nearest to me because its battery was shutting down in less than an hour. I bought a 3G phone on November 4th, 2008. I still had a few months on my contract with ATT. Thus, I was not looking to renew my contract or upgrade the phone— at least not yet. However, upon being helped at the store and telling them of my phone’s demise, the Apple representative told me that my only options were either to buy the same phone for $99.00 and continue with my existing ATT plan or upgrade and thus renew my ATT plan for two more years. It took me a moment to get over the news. So, I asked “do you mean to tell me that you are not going to replace the battery?” She replied very politely telling me they couldn’t open the phone to replace the battery. I replied saying that every other phone company allows you to replace the battery or at least I thought they should. Thus, my fight for a new battery got me nowhere and I had to decide if I wanted to get a 4G and start all over, or buy the same phone for half the money.

My disappointment with this marketing technique of forcing people to buy an entire new electronic device instead of replacing a part has reinforced some ideas I have entertained for a while. This last Monday, while giving a lecture to my students based on the book by Karl Aspelund, The Creative Process, we touched on the topic of sustainability, expanding on the concepts found on Stage 2 of the creative process: Identification. In the book, Aspelund emphasises the need for designers to think about sustainability BEFORE they sit down to create and sketch. He encourages designers to ask questions about materials and think about how these materials will be discarded once the user moves on. He states:

Expecting common sense should never be a basic assumption in any design…