Apple calls 5-year-old “vintage”

Little Ms. iMac went to an official Apple beehive Saturday and asked to buy some honey to cure her sore throat. Instead of some medicine, however, she was told that she was too over-the-hill to deserve a cure, and she was advised to commit suicide. At age 5.

By February 2012, Apple will no longer produce replacement parts for iMacs from 2006, according to the Apple employee who helped me. My machine is perfectly fine except for a stripe running down the monitor’s center, and two quotes to repair it averaged $600. Although it could be fixed at this high price, the store employee warned that any future kinks would put the machine into a permanent coma with no technology available to treat it. In other words, don’t waste your time to fix it—buy a new one. And a new iPhone. And a new iPod, iTouch, and iGotU. (on a related note, Check out the clever video iMatter).

When I asked if the store would recycle the young machine, he said “no.” To recycle through Apple, he said that I would need to take several steps and pay for it myself.

Apple has been getting a lot of bad press this month because of exposés of the deplorable working conditions at its affiliated factories in China. One compelling image is the netting installed at Chinese factory dorms to catch the suicidal jumpers.

But another dirty secret of shiny Apple is called “planned obsolescence.” Its products are designed to fail and become “vintage” after a few years, thereby creating tons of e-waste along with the company’s record-breaking profits. On Sunday I watched a great film about this phenomena called The Light Bulb Conspiracy.  Try to see it. It shows how the marketplace encourages a “disposable” society.

But what to do about my sick iMac? By the way, I also have another, older turquoise-shell iMac in the closet. It seems that even schools (and relatives) don’t want them. But I refuse to dump it into the trash, knowing that it will be shipped overseas to pollute the third world. Maybe I’ll just keep them in the closet indefinitely.

Locally, a new one-stop shop for recycling has opened up at Ecomb in South Beach. I joined their board in December, so I take no credit for this accomplishment. For full disclosure, I have owned many Apple products and have preferred their computers to PCs for a long time. But with an awareness of mounting e-waste, I can’t simply replace, replace, replace. I will reduce the purchase of disposable and non-biodegradable products. I will reuse my aging electronics or simply let them go. And I will buy products that can be recycled.

Apple should start by setting up recycling centers in every Apple store. Considering that their last quarter posted $46.3 billion in sales, I think they can afford it.


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