If the only metric for how long products should be used is how long they’re commonly used, we won’t be able to make longer-lasting products.
Bait-and-switch refers to the illegal practice of advertising a product or service, tempting customers to invest resources (time or money) based on the advertisement, and then changing the product once the customer has already invested, presumably to squeeze more money out of the transaction.
The problem that many products that rely on software to function, according to terms of service, come with components that are licensed, not sold, which essentially enables a loophole to legally apply bait-and-switch tactics to consumer products.
Thought experiment: What if you go to a bakery and buy a bread roll for $2.99 and the baker says “you can have it for free if you give me all your family photos and the rights to analyze them using robots and sell your data.”
A lot of products you buy come with a “software licensing agreement,” typically stating something like…
“The software that is part of this product is licensed to you, not sold.”
and further, something along the lines of…
“We reserve the right to modify this licensing agreement at any time with or without notice.”
What’s the purpose of a clause like this?
The idea that customers just “license” software products instead of owning them has manifested and I see a daunting development in the consumer electronics world that could potentially lead to products becoming obsolete because the associated software is deemed obsolete by the manufacturer.
As the software running the internet of things gets more and more complex, it won’t even require hardware failure to render our future cars, refrigerators or toasters obsolete.