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When Did Quality & Reliability Stop Being Important?

confusionSeveral events have occurred over the past few weeks that got me and other OWC’ers wondering:

when did quality and reliability stop being important to both consumers and those entrusted with creating consumer electronics?

I’m using that CE term here very broadly to group tech gadgets, general everyday electronic gear (digital cameras for example), and even home appliances as many now have UIs (User Interfaces), and to some degree, an OS (Operating System). It takes awhile for my insights to go full circle, but it’s worth the read as you might be as surprised as we are to some of the observations/conclusions.

What first perhaps got this idea rolling about quality not being found in modern CE products was a 16 month video review/update of the NewerTech miniStack v3 by Michael Manna of the T4 Show. Michael brings a really nice user perspective to all his reviews and drops the vernacular so it’s really easy to understand what’s important and how things work. What took me and OWC Larry aback were the reader comments to Michael’s video. Several of them seemed genuinely amazed that a CE product could last longer than a year.

I was out with my wife this past weekend looking at a variety of kitchen appliances for a variety of reasons. The constant though is that they are all just four years old and while working correctly, they do so with some limitation and/or irritation. Not to mention the occasional odd sound and/or appearance that gives one the incentive to be proactive and replace it before a major problem ensues. What I was taken aback by was the sparse warranty coverage offered by manufacturers on new appliances. A paltry one year…and it didn’t matter whether you were looking at a $499 dishwasher or a $1,800+ refrigerator. Which, I might add, are pretty average prices for those kinds of appliances lest any of you think of me as Rich Uncle Pennybags. And even more dismaying was hearing from several sources that appliances warranties are starting to go to just 90 days!

I’ve discussed this warranty coverage topic with many members of the OWC team and many were equally surprised by the short duration. I’m curious…are you equally surprised by that short term too? And do feel a bit like “how are they getting away with that?” Rather than chalk it up to “ah, of course, so they can get you with an expensive extended warranty” resignation, I find myself angry and perhaps wanting to lead a consumer revolution against something that we’re all partly to blame for allowing to happen.

My take – and some research into it supports the position – is that electronics have become viewed as disposable, easily replaced, and consumable over a short period of time. Perfectly working iPod just need a battery? Forget the hassle, just buy a new one with more features. Your phone doesn’t take pictures? That’s SOooooo yesterday, you need new. Refrigerator doesn’t have a touch screen and you can’t run your home from it? Off to the landfill! And we’ve all fallen into this trap that allows CE manufacturers to get more frequent purchases of lower quality products as they are not expected to last long…so they aren’t designed for years of reliable service. And to cover their tracks, those pricey extended warranties exist for those of us that don’t need all the latest features and expect to get a good number of years out of an appliance. Last time I checked, a refrigerator’s primary purpose is to keep your food from spoiling and not necessarily act like a “netbox”. And I’d like it to keep providing that purpose for 10+ years as I find anything less a waste of resources in many ways.

If you don’t know one thing about us, remember this…value, quality, and maximizing resources (including your investment) are always in style with us. We’re consumers too and we exist to deliver to you products that deliver the highest levels of quality, reliability, and performance. Without any designer names, trendy colors, toylike designs, or other unnecessary features. Then back them with industry leading warranty coverage, services, and support.

Some copy I wrote today nicely sums up the entire topic in regard to storage solutions:

For over two decades, OWC and NewerTech storage solutions have been meticulously engineered with a focus on quality and reliability. By concentrating on long-term high performance instead of the latest design trends, we’re able to offer a key feature that isn’t found on any specs chart.


A storage solution shouldn’t just be about purchasing the latest tech gadget. Rather, it’s an investment in safely storing your life’s work, memories, and entertainment. So when trust is one of your key specifications, you can count on OWC and NewerTech to back you up for the long haul.

While many can assure you that you can buy with confidence from us, I wish there was an appliance manufacturer that could give me that same feeling. Maybe we should expand and go into that area as well? Hmm…NuClean, NuCool, NewerTV…those have a nice ring to them!

Rocket Yard Contributor
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  • I’ve heard it said before… “They should again build up to a quality rather than down to a price”….

  • I look to OWC because of confidence of reliability.

    Too many vendors carry every product on the market, even if it is junk.

    I’ve only had one case of a problem with OWC and that was indirectly from a friend I had recommended an OWC product to. (And I’ll avoid the details here.)

    Otherwise, lots of happy friends using OWC products.

    • Thanks MacRat…I don’t see us taking our “eyes off the prize” anytime soon. Without the confidence and trust from folks like you, we have nothing. And, it isn’t very soul satisfying to just be in business for profits’ sake.
      We kinda think we make a difference with our approach and we’re pretty obsessed with not ever taking you and others for granted.
      We’ve kicked around the idea of a org chart here, and when we discuss that, it always has the customer at the very top of it. I guess we’ve never created hat chart formally because we start to feel our talk is cutting into actually serving!
      Anyways…always good “talking” to you and others here.
      All stay warm and dry…some nasty weather around the country currently.