Hacker Career Advice

How Long Is a Lifetime?

Earlier this week, TomTom caught some flack for discontinuing map updates for older GPS devices. Basically, TomTom decided that “lifetime” updates meant “for the useful life” of the device, rather than its actual life.

To customers, it was a betrayal of trust and an example of forced obsolescence.

But TomTom, facing declining sales and competition from Google/Apple Maps, probably made the right decision. After all, those free map updates aren’t creating any revenue.

The point is, developer time is scarce and the product must go on. So occasionally, you have to make some unpopular decisions. Every engineer has to deal with tradeoffs in their product, and in their job. It’s part of the gig!