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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reduction in the value of a FIXED ASSET because of a significant change in demand or technology which renders the asset out of date, or comparatively inefficient.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 ?
As he states in the preface, "I found myself more and more forced to the conclusion that the Church of England, in its present quarrelsome and institutionally obsolescent state, is just not fit or able to share, spread and serve the Christian gospel of the future which is offered to humanity by the God of the Bible, who is the God known in and through Jesus Christ and the God active in the Holy Spirit.
The square toe shoe is a contemporary fashion trend, which makes it obsolescent in nature.
We build a comprehensive model based on two relevant bodies of literature: the literature on one-time-only sales of non-perishable, non-obsolescent products, and the literature on inventory and pricing decisions for obsolescent products in the absence of any one-time only considerations.
These upgrades also allow the replacement of obsolescent color graphics with Hench Control's ColorMaster[TM].
The pilots fought in obsolescent aircraft against well-equipped adversaries who had reinforcements available, while the Gladiator squadrons did not and could only fight delaying actions.
While biotech promoters argue that the international spread of contamination renders such calls obsolescent, political quagmires like the one playing out in Africa make the need for a moratorium all the more urgent.
They're obsolescent songs; the companies want to make money fast.
The Government has a clear duty to put legislation through, making all live animal-hunting with dogs obsolescent.
Idle hi-tech equipment rapidly becomes obsolescent.
Audi has set itself the target of making rear fog lamps obsolescent in the foreseeable future.
Existing deepwater forces are technologically obsolescent and not up to the demands of the Coast Guard's critical maritime homeland security and other missions.
Even leaving aside nuclear ABM defenses, conventional anti-missile missiles like the Patriot have proven effective -- especially against obsolescent models like the Iraqi SCUDs, the type of missile most likely to be used by a third-world rogue regime.