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Decomposing software obsolescence cases - a cause and effect analysis framework for software induced product replacement

: Wagner, Eduard; Poppe, Erik; Hahn, Florian; Jaeger-Erben, Melanie; Druschke, Jan; Nissen, Nils F.; Lang, Klaus-Dieter

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Schneider-Ramelow, Martin ; Fraunhofer-Institut für Zuverlässigkeit und Mikrointegration -IZM-, Berlin; TU Berlin:
International Congress "Electronics Goes Green 2020+". Proceedings : The Story of Daisy, Alexa and Greta, September 1, 2020, Berlin, Germany, virtual
Stuttgart: Fraunhofer Verlag, 2020
ISBN: 978-3-8396-1659-8
International Congress "Electronics Goes Green 2020+" <2020, Online>
Conference Paper, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IZM ()

Harmonising the lifetime of the hard- and software symbiosis of electronic products is critical to extend the overall useable lifetime. Premature obsolescence triggered by software is characterised by complex software-hardware systems, involved actors and various cause-effect dependency paths, making a quantitative analysis of software obsolescence driving factors from a socio-ecological perspective a difficult task. This ongoing study collects and analysis systematically prominent software related obsolescence cases as the “Apple iPhone slowdown” and “Sonos Speaker Trade Up”, by combining few existing theoretical approaches to a novel analysis framework. Methodologically, each obsolescence case has been first decomposed into its hardware-software and manufacturer supplier system. In a second step, information have been gathered including brand, model, release price and date, discontinuation notification date and event as well as software support history. Root causes have been identified and successive individual actions and justifications by the product manufacturer recorded. Effects of those actions have been clustered into four categories that are critical for usage and indicate severity of the actions. First results show that extensive worries about product quality (performance, system speed, functionality) as well as resources (financial) are used to justify obsolescence driving decisions. Further reasons include safety and security to protect the user. First conclusions and alternative actions have been proposed for software obsolescence-critical steps, waiting for the argumentative counteroffensive from the manufacturers.