Free Laptop for Life - Brilliant or Back-Asswards?

lifebook4life lifebook laptop image

Image via Fujitsu Siemens
Fujitsu Siemens has launched a new deal in which customers can buy a Lifebook and a 3-year warranty that states at the end of three years, you get a brand new Lifebook replacement. And the new-Lifebook-every-three-years deal lasts for the rest of your life.

Crazy great deal or the opposite of eco-friendly? Hummmm. Let's weigh the pros and cons. There are a couple pros and a couple cons to this approach. The pros are that three years is a long time for a notebook to stick with a single owner – most people are replacing their notebooks every 18 months or so. So a program that encourages users to stick with their notebook for about double the usual time is pretty great. And, the deal is cheap - the warranty is only about $80, so working laptops are more readily available to folks with low incomes.

However, there are definite issues that make this a very ungreen plan. If a person is encouraged to make their own upgrades and modifications to their notebooks, they could keep it for far longer than three years. But with a product under warranty, a customer can’t do their own upgrades and mods without breaking the warranty and foregoing a free laptop in a few years. So it essentially requires buying into planned obsolescence.

There is no guarantee that Fujitsu Siemens is going to refurbish and resell that used laptop they were just mailed – more likely they’ll dump it in the e-waste bin. That means every three years for every customer, there’s going to be a whole laptop to recycle, plus a whole new laptop going out the door.

Another issue is, in the grand scheme of things, what tiny percentage of the population actually wants a Lifebook? When there are netbooks, MacBooks, and all sorts of other options out there to choose from, this program doesn’t do much to ensure people stick with one laptop for three years.

So back to the question: Crazy great deal or opposite of eco-friendly? We’re going to rule the opposite of eco-friendly.

We’re also going to recommend the company rethink this deal and instead of offering cheap replacements, they offer notebooks that will last a good long time and that are upgradeable. Then offer quality parts for upgrading along with classes that teach customers how to make those upgrades themselves instead of a whole new notebook every three years. Cheaper for the company, better for the earth, and would most definitely encourage the customer loyalty they're seeking with this 3-year plan.

Let’s teach planned maintenance and repair rather than planned swap and dump.

Via Fujitsu Siemens via PC World
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