Green Phones Made to Wait While Wallets Catch Up


Photo via jurvetson

We've been seeing a rash of greener phones coming onto the market, but according to industry analysts, it's going to be another 2 to 5 years before people really start to consider them as an option. The reason - wallets aren't padded enough for people to care more about the environment than low cost. But a particular cell phone maker is poised to be on the crest of the wave when consumers finally start to catch on.

"People aren't going to care about environmentally friendly mobile phones until the green products cost less than the regular ones," said Tom Byrd, an industry analyst with CCS Insight in Solihull, England. "It's good that manufacturers are talking about this because it will raise demand down the road and prices will come down, but it will be two to five years before we see this as a mass market phenomenon."

Unfortunately, that's a pretty obvious statement. What is more likely to happen (which really is a good thing) is an uptake in interest in less expensive used cell phones. But when people start looking to buy green again, Nokia is ready to be on top, despite their current set-backs. Instead of delving into solar-powered-recycled-plastic-etc phone design, the company is putting the greener technology they have into the phones they already make. For instance, a light sensor that turns down the backlight to conserve energy, and a notice for users to unplug the phone when it hits a full charge.

But when Nokia starts up design again, there's sure to be some industry inspiration. Motorola's Renew, ZTE's Coral-200-Solar, Samsung's Blue Earth, Sony Ericsson's GreenHeart and other phones we've seen recently come out with a greener side will all be fodder for figuring out how to best the Joneses.

But until then, if you're on the prowl for a green replacement to your old phone (which you've used until it can't even turn on anymore, right?) then consider yourself part of a tiny niche.

"This is absolutely a niche product and niche market and niche audience," said Mr. Byrd, the CCS analyst. "But there is an audience out there that cares about the environment and will pay more to lower their impact. This is where the industry is starting, the important step will be expanding to a broader audience."

Via the New York Times
More on Green Cell Phones:
CES 2009: Visiting the Motorola Renew Mobile Phone
Samsung's New Blue Earth Phone is Solar Powered and Made From Water Bottles
CES 2009: Nokia Working to Walk the Green Talk
Cell Phone Sales Slump Is Good Green News
ZTE Wants In on Solar-Powered Phone Trend

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