Published in El Pais, December 3rd 2019
Black Friday has come and gone, some of you shopped some of you not, but some may have unexpectedly found out they need to buy a new streaming device. The reason that is, is because Netflix has stopped supporting several smart TV’s and Roku streamers, the TV’s can still be used as a normal TV, but the Roku devices have essentially become worthless. Netflix explained the reason behind this is a change in software and were quick to point out that the devices in question are old (ranging from 8-10 years) but this does bring up a good question: How long should companies support their devices?
Some might say 8 years old is a long time for a technological device but considering it just streamed videos it probably did a comparable job to newer models and many would have seen no point in replacing it had it not lost support. It is also noteworthy the cost of such devices are going down and that it is not unreasonable to have to spend $40-$50 every 8 years or so on something people almost use daily.
While 8 years is a long time many companies are supporting their products for much shorter. Google’s Pixel phone only gets 3 years of support compared to Apple’s 5 and Samsung’s 4. Having such a short lifespan not only forces many users to buy a new phone earlier it also hurts the resale value as most would not be willing to pay top dollar for a phone that is no longer supported by the manufacturer.
So how long should these devices be supported? Well I believe we as consumers should decide with our wallet. Maybe you would not mind spending $50 on a device that will last you a decade but you might be frustrated spending $800 on something that will only last you a few years.