Difference between Functional and Technical Obsolescence

In the world of technology, there are two types of obsolescence: functional and technical. Functional obsolescence is when a product’s function becomes outdated or obsolete. Technical obsolescence is when a product can no longer keep up with technological advances in the market. If you’re curious about what this means for your current computer, read on! 

VCR is no longer used today

What is Functional Obsolescence?

Functional obsolescence is the loss of attractiveness in a product because it can’t keep up with changes in consumer tastes. This happens when a product’s features or design are no longer desirable to consumers. Functional obsolescence can be caused by a variety of factors, such as changes in technology, fashion, or consumer preferences.

What is Technical Obsolescence?

Technical obsolescence, on the other hand, is the loss of function due to the passage of time, either through physical wear or through changing technology that leaves it obsolete.

For example, a VCR may no longer be able to play new DVDs because the technology has changed since they were first released. Similarly, a computer running on an older operating system may become obsolete due to the fact that it can no longer be upgraded to run newer applications.

Technical obsolescence can occur quickly due to the rapid advancement of technology, particularly in the digital age.

How Do These Two Types of Obsolescence Differ?

The main difference between functional and technical obsolescence is that functional obsolescence is when a product becomes obsolete because its features or design are no longer desirable to consumers, while technical obsolescence happens when a product’s function becomes obsolete because the technology has changed.

For example, functional obsolescence might include an MP3 player with a touchscreen and no USB port; in contrast, technical obsolescence might include a VCR that’s unable to play DVDs.


Functional and technical obsolescences are two ways products can become obsolete as the tastes of consumers change and technology updates. Technical obsolescence happens due to changes in function or technology, while functional obsolescence happens when a product becomes less attractive because it no longer meets consumer needs.

The difference between the two types is subtle but important: one typically occurs naturally over time and isn’t necessarily negative, while the other often results from an intentional decision by the manufacturer or company – although it can also be caused unintentionally through poor design or planning. As modern living continues to progress, both forms of obsolescence will likely increase in prevalence.

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