How much are those tech toys costing us?

Planned obsolescence is expensive, to the environment and the consumer.

According to the website PCPro, the lifespan of an iPad is two years, and similar lifespans for MacBooks, iPhones and iPods are estimated at.

Early adopters and quick upgraders may be looking at lifespans of their products being considerably less than this.

So – how much are these items costing us?

Ethics and environment aside, here are the maths for entry level Apple items purchased in New Zealand, according to

These prices are the base level products with no added extras at all – they’re the “starting from” price advertised on the site:

MacBook Pro from $1799.00
iPhone from $999.00
iPad from $749.00
iPod from $279.00.

A total of $3826.00 for all four items, which is pretty typical ownership for many people. Especially considering a median income in New Zealand is typically between $30K and $40K.

How much is that per year? Per day? Pushing the figures…

Working on the two year lifespan model, these items would cost a user $1913.00 per year. Not cheap.

Cost per day for ownership is $5.24 per day.

These figures are, of course, also excluding any credit card interest if a loan was taken out, as well as any costs of iPhone plans, wifi and data etc.

None of these extra costs have anything to do with Apple or planned obsolescence, but it’s clear that ownership of these short life expectancy items is pretty pricey.

Cheaper alternatives in tech gear

Much cheaper alternatives do exist.

  • Laptops: Run Ubuntu and buy an older secondhand machine, or a cheaper new machine. My daughter’s laptop is a secondhand machine that is six years old and only now starting to fail.The electronics are fine; it’s the casing that is cracking and the keyboard that is failing, due to heavy use by children. It is running Ubuntu and it works speedily.
  • Phones: Question what you need and why, and don’t buy a plan. You can buy smart phones as cheaply as $49 in discount stores and they work fine.Don’t expect an eight megapixel camera included, that’s all. If you like photography, get a separate camera – you can grab great secondhand digi cameras cheaply from all those people buying iPhones who no longer need their cameras! 😉
  • Tablets: Do you really need one? Personally I view them as a computer with all the useful parts missing! They’re an expensive, unnecessary, fragile toy. Having no tablet costs exactly $0.00 over an eternal lifespan 😉
  • iPods: Go cheap – buy a nameless brand mp3 player or a shuffle. My shuffle is three years old, was bought for $30 duty free, and works a treat.Even if I replace it every two or three years it won’t break my bank.

I believe we should vote with our feet. If we don’t like being screwed over, don’t let companies screw us over. It’s as simple as that.

We live in a technological world, and I enjoy technology as much as the next person, but I like technology that is robust and good value. That makes sense for me and for the environment 🙂


  1. I agree about the tablets in particular – I don’t have one, and I don’t really have any desire to buy one. I much prefer using my laptop at home and computer at work as I think they’re both much easier to use.
    Having seen your figures, I’m also glad that I don’t subscribe to the idea that you have to buy a new phone every year! Mine isn’t perfect but I’ve had it for nearly two years so far and generally it does what I want it to, plus it only cost me about £70, I feel that I’ve saved a lot of money!
    This was a really interesting post, thanks for sharing 🙂


    1. @Joanna – I’m the same. I’ve tried using tablets, and just find them awkward. Most of the work – and play – I do involves input, so they’re just not something I would use, except maybe as a reading device, and if I wanted one of them I’d get a Kindle which are far cheaper.

      I’m happy with my laptop – it’s about 3 years old, but showing no signs of wearing out yet. When it does, I’ll probably buy a Chromebook, as I have no need of a Windows license, and run Ubuntu with Open Office.


  2. It’s always an eye-opener to look at the cost per day. Another way to put it is to look at the number of hours per year you have to work to afford this. Using your math, if the average person makes 35,000 and you spend 1913 buying all these, then 18.29% of your salary would go towards these items. If you are working 40 hours a week, then you work 2080 hours, then 380 are going towards your purchase (and this of course is higher if you count take home pay minus taxes). 380 hours is 9.5 weeks. So the question is would you rather have a 9.5 week vacation or your new stuff that doesn’t really do much more than your old stuff. Or, do you want to work 9.5 weeks longer in your career (this would of course be more like 18 weeks because of interest you would make over your life).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used to think of purchases like this too, mostly when I was working a job I hated – every time I thought I wanted something I would calculate how long I would have to work for at the job I couldn’t stand to be able to buy it! It is a great way of looking at purchases that really makes you evaluate whether it is worth your time. I’m glad you brought this up as I had forgotten about it (currently unemployed and studying).
      – Roe


      1. @Roe – it *is* a really great way to think about it. I just wish more people did. We humans are really good at wanting stuff, and not so good at figuring out the real costs – in terms of effort, time and stress – that go into owning and working for all that stuff.

        The more I think about it, the less stuff I want and need! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    2. @Bruce – It is really scary putting it all into perspective, isn’t it! The thing I find even more frightening is that the vast majority of people probably put these items on credit, so they’re paying credit fees as well! No wonder we’re all broke!

      People just don’t do the maths. Also, quite frankly, this sort of maths isn’t taught in schools. I really wish it were!

      Then there are mobile phone plans. Vodaphone are offering the Samsung S5 currently on a $129 per month plan over 24 months. That’s $3096!!! Yikes! So I looked up how much the S5 sells for – best price is $662 in New Zealand, without a plan. The cheapest plan you can get that is equivalent of what Vodaphone is offering is $16 per month (Skinny). Total = $384 + $662 = $1046 – nearly one third the price for exactly the same thing! ($43 a month total is still quite a lot of money though in my book).

      You’d have to be nuts to go on a plan. But people do.

      These continual expenses worry me. People are having increasing numbers of items for which they’re forking out vast amounts of money every month – plus all the credit charges to go with them. We’re not educating our kids about money, and our culture has a problem talking openly about money and debt which is a real hurdle too – people won’t talk with their friends and compare deals and details of salaries, budgets and fees because they’re deemed a “private matter”. I think it’s time we opened up these issues and began discussing openly their implications for us all – how they’re affecting our lives, wellbeing and health via stress.

      I’m looking forward to your post on the subject 🙂


  3. I have never had an iPhone and never will, I don’t understand the obsession with them at all! Neither does my other half. I don’t think I will ever even bother to check out all it’s features since I am so happy with what my phone already does. I wasn’t even aware that there was an iPhone 5 until a couple of weeks ago never mind an iPhone 6! Perhaps ignorance truly is bliss haha!
    Tablets I also find a bit useless as you cannot do nearly as much as you can with a pc or laptop… they are great for travel though because they are light and you can read on them or go online and so on – I borrowed one earlier this year – but I opted not to buy one because I have no use for it other than those few days a year. I imagine in the future they will combine the functions of a laptop with the lightness and ease of carrying a tablet at which point I would consider them but until then I’ll give them a miss.
    Also I wonder if I am alone in this, but sometimes I purchase new electronics a little prior to my current’s breakdown, for example we bought a new pc to replace 2 laptops which we felt were starting to fail and have problems preemptively so that it would be less disruptive and we could transfer files before the impending failure. 1 of the laptops is still going with some problems but the other fell to pieces after a couple more uses and will be recycled.
    Thanks for giving me so much to think (and talk) about! Really enjoyed the article 🙂
    – Roe

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Roe – I’m right with you on the tablets. When they first came on the market I remember thinking “What a useless item!” Being a writer, it really did seem to me to be to be a less powerful computer with all the useful stuff missing. I mean, what’s the point – to a writer – of having a computer without a keyboard???!!! Useless!

      However, they were marketed well and everyone was talking about them, and soon everyone just HAD to have one. Soon it wasn’t a case of everyone needing an “iPhone and MacBook” it was everyone needing an ‘iPhone AND iPad AND MacBook”. Now the ridiculous iWatch is out, I guess everyone will need one of those too. I can’t help wondering where it will all end.

      Liked by 1 person

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