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09 Sep 2019


When I first graduated in 1981, the average life expectancy of a male in Australia was 71.4 years.

Unsurprisingly, for a female the average life expectancy back then was seven years better at 78.4.

In the 38 years since then, the life expectancy figures for both sexes have improved dramatically to 80.5 years for males and 84.6 years for females.

You might say that in terms of gender bias, men have been closing the gap.

Advances in cancer and cardio-vascular care in Western society probably have played the biggest part in this improvement for both sexes.

Elsewhere in developing countries better nutrition and reductions in infant mortality have steadily improved life expectancy figures there as well.

But anyone who has recently purchased a so-called smart device will not be surprised to see the life expectancy of those devices may be measured in months rather than in years.

I recently experienced this first-hand when I splashed out my cash for a portable GPS device.

I won’t mention the name of the brand.

I was persuaded to buy it because it was on sale at a 30 per cent discount and came with the promise of lifetime world map updates.

So in June 2019, I splurged $244 for my SatNav device.

I must admit that I did download maps of the USA and Western Europe with no plans to go there, but I was disappointed to find that my soon-to-visit Japan still appears to be un-mapped by any Western SatNav device.

Then in July 2019, I received an unexpected email advising me that the device that I’d purchased only four weeks previously was no longer up-gradable.

The actual email said: “Your current SatNav is incompatible with … latest map update. Consider upgrading your hardware.”

How could this be, I thought, particularly as the up-graded device they suggested was the same model as the one I’d just purchased?

I’d even registered my device within 30 days of purchase to be eligible for the lifetime world maps offer

The email went on to explain what they meant by lifetime.

“Lifetime is the useful life of the device, which means the period of time that … (the company) continues to support your device with software updates, services, content or accessories. A device will have reached the end of its life when none of these are available any more. The useful life of the smartphone app means the period of time that (the company) continues to support the app with updates.”

All of this sounds suspiciously like the Apple model of programmed redundancy which keeps customers coming back for a new device year after year.

This idea of a lifetime seemed to be very different to my idea of 80.5 years.

In the Orwellian company’s world, it seems that the maker of the device can decide for you when its life is over and it’s time to step up to the newest model.

But I’m sure all of this was just a mistake, because I’m pleased to say that my device is still up-dating.

I have a draw full of old SatNav devices that all still work, but have fallen into the crevasse of redundancy.

Perhaps the email referred to one of them.

Safe motoring,
Doctor Clive Fraser


Published: 09 Sep 2019