Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to obsolescence: external obsolescence, functional obsolescence, economic obsolescence


The circumstance in which a good or service is no longer desired, especially when a new, better good or service becomes available. For example, relatively few people use VHS tapes because DVDs are both more convenient and are higher quality. VHS tapes, then, have undergone obsolescence. Some companies deliberately render their products obsolete because it makes customers more likely to come back and buy new products. See also: Planned obsolescence.


  1. the tendency for products to become outmoded and to reach the end of their effective PRODUCT LIFE CYCLE. Obsolescence may be due to changes in style, fashion, materials used and the functions performed. With rapidly advancing technology and more fickle public tastes, product life cycles are tending to shorten as new, more sophisticated products supersede established products. Firms may respond by frequently updating their existing products in order to lengthen their life cycle. Alternatively, firms may deliberately follow a strategy of ‘planned obsolescence’ by bringing out a continuous stream of new products both to establish COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE over rival suppliers, and to increase their total sales by inducing customers to replace products more frequently.


  2. the reduction in the value of a FIXED ASSET because of a significant change in demand or technology which renders the asset out of date, or comparatively inefficient.

    Renting or LEASING plant, machinery and equipment avoids the risk of obsolescence, since at the end of the rental or lease period a firm may rent or lease a more modern fixed asset.


A loss in value of an improvement because something makes it undesirable or no longer useful,even though it might be structurally sound.

• Functional obsolescence occurs because of factors within a property, such as a poor floor plan or lack of modern amenities. A three-bedroom, one-bathroom house with a one-car garage would generally be considered as suffering from functional obsolescence.

• Economic obsolescence, also called environmental obsolescence and external obsolescence, occurs because of factors outside a property. Examples include construction of an airport near a residential area or a change in highway access leaving a retail area stranded.

References in periodicals archive ?
Legislation against obsolescence is not enough on its own; it requires a body that could assist with its implementation and enforcement.
In a traditional brick-and-mortar business that manufactures goods, valuation experts have many tools for measuring external obsolescence.
Appraisal theory also holds that by using a residual technique, one can calculate the combined impact on value of entrepreneurial profit/incentive and external obsolescence by deducting the previously computed, incomplete cost approach values from the NPI market values.
The present study looks at obsolescence from two perspectives, that of an individual perspective and also of an organizational perspective.
The life cycle of a scientific specialty is characterized by growth and decline but not necessarily by obsolescence.
The Equipment Obsolescence Forum will bring equipment manufacturers together to pilot innovative solutions to avoid equipment obsolescence.
The OMT strives to assist the V-22 program office's (PMA-275) integrated product teams (IPTs) in reducing total ownership cost as a result of obsolescence issues by influencing pending aircraft design changes and maintenance concepts, and improving integrated logistics support products, based on current mission requirements and future mission needs.
Equally important, the partnership also offers complete proactive obsolescence protection for newly developed military systems and post deployed legacy systems -- a total life cycle security envelope.
Deer Creek argued that it was entitled to a 50% economic obsolescence reduction because 43% of the center was continuously vacant for one year prior to and including the March 1, 1994 assessment date.
The Colorado Supreme Court affirmed a reduction of property tax assessment on computer equipment based on technological obsolescence, in IBM Credit Corp.
It goes on to examine the relevance of the concept of obsolescence in a possible future world where libraries are "virtual" rather than "actual.
com/avcom, features the company's widely used suite of tools and services called AVCOM (Advanced Component Obsolescence Management).