Thursday, June 4, 2015

Cloud Offloading Model: Everyone Wins (?)

By Alex Avila

Consumer trends come fast, fleeting, and fickle. None of this rings true more than it does in the market of smartphones. What is hip and cutting edge now could be yesterday's news by the end of the year. 

Anytime that one thinks of planned obsolescence, it's clear that smartphones will come to mind quicker than most. That people have managed to stay so quiet in regards to the degree of said obsolescence is astounding in and of itself. But, what can we do about this? A recent report by The Green Alliance, there are six circular models that can provide a remedy, including one which the main author of the study says may work best. This is a model known as the Cloud Offloading Model.

So, what occurs under this model? Usually, after a mobile phone is purchased, it is used to replace an old phone which is seen as no longer satisfying to the consumer for whatever the reason may be. However, under the Cloud Offloading Model, this unwanted phone would be refurbished by the manufacturer, and then resold to developing and emerging markets. In a way, this is similar to what is currently happening with the "Mitumba" trade in Africa, where businesses take discarded, unwanted clothes from developing countries, and sell them in African countries. The one difference is that the manufacturers would benefit, as opposed to second hand retailers. 

It can be argued that when companies have an incentive to create more sustainable products, they often do. Being able to do the same to resell products can both enhance reputation and create a new market and audience in a new frontier. This model would also extend itself to laptops and tablets. There is a lingering question, though, and it's a large one: would consumers be willing to accept the fact that their old products, which may contain intimate and confidential data, be sold off to someone else? 

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