The Phoebus Cartel – yes, light bulbs lifespans were lowered for profit #History
The Phoebus cartel was an oligopoly that controlled the manufacture and sale of incandescent light bulbs. They appropriated market territories and lowered the useful life of such bulbs. Corporations based in Europe and the United States founded the cartel on January 15, 1925 in Geneva Phoebus based itself in Switzerland.
Osram, Philips, Tungsram, Associated Electrical Industries, ELIN, Compagnie des Lampes, International General Electric, and the GE Overseas Group created and joined the Phoebus cartel, holding shares in the Swiss corporation proportional to their lamp sales.
The cartel lowered operational costs and worked to standardize the life expectancy of light bulbs at 1,000 hours (down from 2,500 hours), and raised prices without fear of competition, in what has been described as a “classic example of planned obsolescence“. The cartel tested their bulbs and fined manufacturers for bulbs that lasted more than 1,000 hours.
The Phoebus cartel was intended to be dissolved in 1955 but World War II greatly disrupted its operation. It was dissolved in 1939.
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