Obsolescence. A reduction in the useful life of a capital good or consumer durable good through economic or technological change or any other external changes, as distinct from physical deterioration in use (depreciation). For example, a new process or machine may be developed, which renders existing equipment uneconomic, because a firm could significantly reduce its costs by scrapping its existing machinery, even though it might still have many years of physical life. Then the old equipment has become obsolescent. Planned obsolescence’ is a term used to describe the way certain consumer durables, e.g. motor-cars, are altered in appearance or performance so that users will wish to buy new ones earlier than they would otherwise have done. In this instance, a consumer’s utility or satisfaction is said to be reduced subjectively by the knowledge that his car is not the latest model, even though its performance has not deteriorated in any way.
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