Mar 3, 2015 · 1 minute

People aren't keeping their gadgets, appliances, and other gizmos as long as they used to.

That's according to researchers from the Öko-Institut in Germany, which was asked to examine the rate at which consumers replace their electronics products with new units.

People replace consumer electronics for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it's because a product stopped working; other times it's because consumers want the newest version of that product.

Both reasons are becoming increasingly prevalent. As the Guardian explains in a report:

The researchers did not draw a firm conclusion on built-in obsolescence but noted that the proportion of all units sold to replace a defective appliance grew from 3.5% in 2004 to 8.3% in 2012, in what they deemed a 'remarkable' increase.
Built-in obsolescence is the idea that companies deliberately turn their products into ticking time bombs, either with software updates or by using parts only meant to last a certain amount of time. That way, consumers will scurry to replace them with the newest version of the same product.

Defects aren't the only thing driving consumers to swap out their old products for newer versions, however. As the Öko-Institut researchers found, once again via the Guardian:

However consumer preference is also playing a role. A third of all replacement purchases for products such as refrigerators and washing machines were motivated by a desire for a better unit while the old one was still functioning.

Consumers are also increasingly keen to swap their flat screen televisions for better versions with larger screens and better picture quality, even though more than 60% of replaced televisions were still functioning in 2012. It's going to be interesting for future generations to walk through desolate wastelands, excavating fully-functional iPhones and television sets and wondering why we threw away so many working products only so to use up more of the Earth's resources.

Until then, though: have you guys seen those fancy 4K television sets?