Even, or especially, good things must come to an end. While the usual turnover for smartphones and computers is usually claimed to be two years, various laws mandate that manufacturers offer parts and repairs far longer than that. That said, there’s always a hard limit to that life extension. By the end of this month, Apple will reportedly be shuffling a few of its devices over to its “vintage and obsolete” list, practically putting an end to the iPhone 4’s and late 2010 13-inch MacBook Air’s long lives.
Other than marking the end, moving devices to such a list also has significant practical and legal implications. Apple has a subtle distinction between “vintage” and “obsolete” products. Those under the vintage heading has not been manufactured for more than 5 years but less than 7 years and have, therefore, ceased getting hardware services. The “7 years” is due to some exceptions, like in California, where Apple is required to support devices up to 7 years.
Once the full 7 years have been reached, however, the product is obsoleted. No more parts or repairs will be offered, at least not officially from Apple. While there might be third-party shops doing unofficial services, it’s bound to get harder and more expensive as parts get rarer.
Both the iPhone 4 and the MacBook Air 13 late 2010 model were launched in 2010, so this is not exactly a surprise. The date, however, has so far remained unknown, until this leak coming from Apple Japan. The list also includes the 3rd gen AirPort Extreme and the 2nd gen Time Capsule. Given how the company applies such policies uniformly across the globe, we can expect that these devices to become vintage and obsolete on October 31.
The fate of the MacBook Air is particularly interesting in light of upcoming events. The MacBook Air line hasn’t received an update in a year and was almost thought to be soon extinct because of the extra thin new MacBook. However, Apple is expected to launch a few new Mac computers gradually starting later this month, though a new MacBook Air still isn’t a sure deal.