August 8, 2007
How far do customers really want their vendors to go with green computing? Depends on who you ask.A Lenovo blog inquiry as to how much emphasis customers place on green PCs is stirring up passions from both ends of the specturm. While Trevor says Lenovo's green plans are "right on -- consumers are becoming more demanding of green credentials -- and less accepting of greenwash," Greenguy says, "Lenovo should quit fooling around with issues that don't have anything to do with getting ordered machines in customer's [sic] hands." As we alluded to in a related post earlier this week, it's a tricky issue involving the need to balance three complex variables: first and foremost, creating great products that customers want and that return a solid profit to the manufacturer; second, evolving an entire business model from one that until very recently paid little or no attention to recycling, to one that embraces financially sound new processes for sourcing, manufacturing, servicing, and ultimately redistribution or disposal; and third, doing enough (and saying enough) to placate the end-of-days environmental screechers whose small numbers belie their overly amplified voices.
Now, don't get me wrong -- I'm all for responsible, profit-driven strategies that create sustainable business models allowing manufacturers to design, build, and perhaps even dispose of all this high-tech gadgetry in ways that lead to less waste. If that can include innovative new processes for reclaiming and reusing existing materials and products, why, so much the better. But let's not delude ourselves: If customers have a choice between buying a computer with a high price and mediocre performance but can be composted in your garden when its computing utility is no more, versus buying a great machine at a great price with a kludgey but acceptable recycling policy, the vast majority will buy the latter. The former will win all sorts of awards from various "activist" groups but will be forced to shut down its granola-crunch product line within 12 months because it did not provide the type of value customers expect and require and are willing to pay for. Be sure to check out the Lenovo blog on this subject -- as I write this, there are 22 responses, and they cover a range of perspectives. Kudos to Lenovo for hosting this, particularly with comments such as, "Who cares about green when its [sic] taking upwards of one month to ship out orders? That is ridiculous. I assure you, the only reason I haven't canceled my order is the fact that I have family that works at IBM and was able to use the EPP [employee purchase plan]." What about you: do you insist on the scene that's pristene green, or cut no slack unless the numbers show black?
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