Backward Compatibility? Brilliant! Sony’s Playstation VR Scores

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Picture Credit: Ripley’s Believe it or Not

If, as an early adopter of consumer electronics, you get frustrated with the oh-so-common “planned obsolescence“, Sony’s introduction of its Playstation VR (Star Wars showcased) is a welcome embrace of “backward compatibility” (which Webopedia explains here). Sony touts “Greatness Awaits” in this short VT demo here. Sefton Hill (ibtimes interview here) from Rocksteady Studios was the creative director behind some of the VR games including Batman Arkham which is an addictive PS4 game even without VR. But check it out in VR mode here. The team is focused on enabling Batman’s gadgets and encouraging players to interact in multiplayer mode. Of course, that calls for bandwidth and low latency….Daft_Psycho shows you in this video how to reduce lag in PS4 games from the receiver end.

To be sure, there will be a PS5 and an XBox10 (?) but a cool story about “the way things were” shows in 30 second refresh mode that an incandescent bulb called the Centennial Bulb made 115 years ago still operates just fine.

 

Unbelievably and cynically, the BBC calls planned obsolescence “a conspiracy theory.” (can major media stop using this label when there are facts to prove these theories?)

“Beyond the crude caricature of greedy companies wantonly fleecing their customers, the practice does have silver linings. To an extent, planned obsolescence is an inevitable consequence of sustainable businesses giving people goods they desire. In this way, planned obsolescence serves as a reflection of a ravenous, consumer culture which industries did create for their benefit, yet were hardly alone in doing so. Fundamentally, firms are reacting to the tastes of the consumers,” says Judith Chevalier, a professor of finance and economics at Yale University. “I think there are some avenues where [businesses] are kind of tricking the consumer, but I think there are also situations where I might put the fault on the consumer.”

Blame the consumer ! But BBC then undermines their own point. “The business model changed, however, as the light bulb customer base grew more mass-market. Greater sums of money could be reaped, companies figured, by making bulbs disposable and putting replacement costs onto customers. Thus was born the infamous “Phoebus cartel” in the 1920s, wherein representatives from top light bulb manufacturers worldwide, such as Germany’s Osram, the United Kingdom’s Associated Electrical Industries, and General Electric (GE) in the United States (via a British subsidiary), colluded to artificially reduce bulbs’ lifetimes to 1,000 hours. The details of the scam emerged decades later in governmental and journalistic investigations.” (Source: Spectrum IEEE)

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The Economist is a bit more honest, but with a twist. “Planned obsolescence is a business strategy in which the obsolescence (the process of becoming obsolete—that is, unfashionable or no longer usable) of a product is planned and built into it from its conception. This is done so that in future the consumer feels a need to purchase new products and services that the manufacturer brings out as replacements for the old ones. Consumers sometimes see planned obsolescence as a sinister plot by manufacturers to fleece them. But Philip Kotler, a marketing guru (see article), says: “Much so-called planned obsolescence is the working of the competitive and technological forces in a free society—forces that lead to ever-improving goods and services.”

Giles Slade, author of the book Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America (buy here at Amazon) concluded that “America invented everything that is now disposable, which was, in fact, a necessary condition for America’s rejection of tradition and our acceptance of change and impermanence. The ideas behind obsolescence at work (are seen) in such American milestones as the inventions of branding, packaging, and advertising; the contest for market dominance between GM and Ford; the struggle for a national communications network, the development of electronic technologies–and with it the avalanche of electronic consumer waste that is overwhelming America’s landfills and poisoning its water. History reserves a privileged place for those societies that built things to last–forever, if possible. What place will it hold for a society addicted to consumption–a whole culture made to break?” (If you are an audio book fan, here is a stream of Slade’s book.)

 

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