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Mobiles, mobiles everywhere, but can the market stand it?

Ross O. Storey | Jan. 13, 2010
Where do old mobile devices go when they die?

We all know the western world is full of consumer societies. But I wonder just how many mobile devices the global market can actually handle and whats happening to old devices that are no longer of use.

It seems that every major player is focusing full tilt on producing a new device to add to the plethora of hand-held gadgets already clamouring for consumer and enterprise attention.

The leaders of the pack have to be Research In Motions Blackberry, which still dominates the enterprise space and the Apple iPhone which has set a very high design standard for touch-screen technology.

But now we also have Googles Nexus One, Acer planning six new Android handsets for the first half of this year, Dell and Lenovo releasing new models, and cell phone giants Nokia and Samsung fighting hard to maintain their dominance.

The enterprise and consumer choice for mobile devices is becoming complex and vast.

The flipside

The flipside of this rush to market of so many electrical devices is what happens to old models that are thrown away for the next big thing? Most end up as land fill and many have batteries and chemicals in their makeup that really shouldnt be buried in our earth.

And what about the exploitation of labour in poorer countries as the worlds corporations plunder minerals such as tantalum, which is a key ingredient in mobile phone manufacturing?

I confess to having a bagful of old model mobile phones in my cupboard at home together with a vast array of chargers that only fit specific models.

A throw-away mentality

With Copenhagen ending in a fizzle and Green IT seemingly falling down the priority list for too many enterprises, the developed worlds continued focus on boosting consumption and encouraging a throw-away mentality among consumers (just try to get your old mobile phone repaired and see how you go) it is a worry that the impact of disposing of old mobile phones and other computer equipment doesnt get talked about much.

We all love the newest and latest digital devices but how much thought do we give to their lifespan? How long do you think your current mobile phone will last? One year? Two years? What thought have you given to how you will dispose of your old phone when you buy a new one?

Standardisation

Standardisation of some mobile phone components, like chargers for example, and providing environmentally friendly ways to recycle old equipment, certainly are worth stronger consideration by the big manufacturers.

Perhaps they all should consider giving consumers a discount on new models if they hand in their old handsets? Surely corporations and big manufacturers must shoulder the responsibility of disposing of their unwanted old products? Id love to hear from any of them that have such programmes in place (and I hope they do).

 

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