Co-founder of both Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel Gordon Moore is not necessarily a household name. Among people intimately involved with modern technology, however, he’s more well-known. In fact, the American billionaire has a law named after him – Moore’s Law. Originally published in 1965 and revised a decade later, the law states that the quantity of transistors in a microchip — called by the more technical name of integrated circuit in that law — doubles about every two years. Boiled down to its essence that means that every two years the computational power of computers, smartphones, and anything else that uses microchips doubles.
It’s a somewhat obscure law but the manifestations of Moore’s Law are widespread and experienced by people the world over. Although nowadays it’s more common to have a computer for several years, readers old enough to have bought computers in the ’90s or earlier might recall how quickly the machines became obsolete. In the past decade, technology has become more stable inasmuch as it takes more time before an computer becomes out of date and even longer before it becomes obsolete.
Nevertheless, the electronics industry is well-known for releasing new computers and other devices very often, prompting millions of people to trade in their older PlayStation, iPhone, laptop or any such device.
For technophiles, the advantages of upgrading to the next generation are rather self-evident. Perhaps there are better graphics or sound quality. The device can possibly load programs more quickly or have a better battery life. This changes may sound insignificant, but for professionals the changes can be critical. As the BBC’s Marc Settle pointed out in 2015 when the iPhone 6 was released, smartphone camera upgrades can sometimes be the difference between good reporting and great reporting. For anyone who earns their living using their smartphone as a tool of the trade, latest generation products are something of a must-have. For the majority of smartphone users, however, the advantages are less obvious. That’s not to say there are none, but they tend to be noticed by only the most critical of users.
One of the disadvantages of hanging on to an older smartphone for an extended period of time is that newer apps might not work on older software. In an effort to reach as many clients as possible, however, many companies make sure that their apps are compatible with older generations of operating systems and hardware where appropriate. Case in point, with popularity of the games soaring, many mobile bingo service providers make sure that their apps can be played on phones that are several years old. For players of such games the need for a new phone is certainly less pressing, while the operators themselves ensure a wider potential clientele.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are companies that encourage and to an extent reward customers for upgrading. Industry trendsetter and electronics giant Apple were the first company to bring smartphones to the mainstream and since have been seen as a harbinger of things to come. In recent years, Apple has done away with USB ports on their MacBooks and perhaps more shockingly, they got rid of the headphone jack with the iPhone 7. While these upgrades are most certainly ahead of the curve, they can actually be more of a burden than a blessing in the early months or years when equivalent products from other companies have not caught up in development.
The Technology Products Editor for news outlet at CNBC recently claimed in an article that nowadays the only noticeable change to mobile phones is security. He argues the most secure software on the market is commonly exclusive to the latest models and upgrades are only recommended for people with security concerns.
In his article he talks about remembering when, not long ago, customers were incentivized to upgrade to a new phone every two years, but goes on to say that most smartphones released today are good for three, four or even five years. In 1965 when Moore’s Law was originally published it stated that the computational power of chips doubles every year. In 1975 it was revised to state that it doubled every two years. With smartphones nowadays lasting for twice as long, it could be time for another revision.