Chromebook Waste is a Serious Problem for Businesses and Education

Laptops are no longer exclusive to the home and work environments; indeed, more and more schools and universities are adopting laptops and other educational technology for the purposes of delivering cutting-edge instruction. Chromebooks are just one option available, if not the most cost-effective one out there. This leads to a unique set of problems, though, particularly when the software powering these devices reaches its end of life.

The long and short of the issue is that Chromebooks are shipped with a software that has a variable expiration date, even though the hardware itself could potentially last much longer.

Let’s examine the arguments in favor of Chromebooks, as well as what the debate about the effectiveness of Chromebooks in the near future means for your organization.

What is Chromebook Churn?

Chromebook Churn is a term used to describe how quickly businesses and schools burn through their Chromebook stock. It’s estimated, for example, that upwards of 40,000 Chromebooks will be thrown out over the next five years because they are bricked by insecurity. Keep in mind, too, that these devices are paid for by taxpayer dollars.

The United States’ part of Public Interest Research Groups, a federation of non-profit organizations that advocate for consumer protection, public health, and transportation, has taken an interest in this problem. PIRG are the minds behind the Designed to Last campaign that advocates for policies such as Right to Repair, pushing for these policies to become codified into law on both the local and national levels.

Lucas Gutterman, director of PIRG’s Designed to Last campaign, wrote a blog post in January that identified PIRG’s vision for the near future. The whole blog can be found here, but for your convenience, we have distilled it to these main points:

  • Pass Right to Repair laws to ensure consumer and business goods can be fixed by anyone with easily-accessible parts.
  • Ensure that repairability is advertised with every product, encouraging manufacturers to make more durable devices.
  • Prevent manufacturer-specific software lockouts to return choice to the consumer.
  • Require the use of removable and replaceable batteries in all products.
  • All devices should have minimum service dates to ensure access to parts and repair services.
  • Protect and encourage repurposing old technology for alternate usage.

As you might imagine, Gutterman has expressed his concern over the preset limitations that Google has implemented, flagging them as “utterly absurd,” even though he has also given Google credit for extending the life of various models that would be set to expire. This isn’t enough, however. According to PIRG’s estimates, a Chromebook should realistically last around four years, and that’s not counting the outdated devices that are sold online, marketed as new devices. This only contributes to the problem, and customers are purchasing devices that realistically have much shorter lifespans than previously thought.

Your Business Doesn’t Have Capital to Waste

Wolk9IT knows how to help your business make the most of its funds, and that’s exactly what we do for New Jersey businesses. To learn more, call us today at (646) 741-1166.

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