INNOVATION:MONEY ON TOSSING NOT FIXING

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INNOVATION:MONEY ON TOSSING NOT FIXING

 user 2008-01-14 at 12:22:00 pm Views: 66
  • #19222

    Innovation puts money on tossing, not fixing
    The
    Canon Pixma iP1800 printer, according to its manufacturer, lets its
    user “produce beautiful, long-lasting photos with borderless edges,
    from credit-card size up to 81/2 by 11 inches.”It spits out up to 20
    pages per minute in black ink and 16 in color, with a borderless
    printer option to make those photos look as if they just rolled off the
    machine at the local hour-processing picture shop.And it retails
    online, as of this writing, for $49 — a mere $9 more than it’ll cost
    you to change the black/white and color ink cartridges the first time
    that’s needed.The Canon Pixma iP1800 is an example of what’s become a
    trend in the computer industry, and a strange one at that, given the
    “think green” push so many people have undertaken recently: We’re
    nearing the point where it’s smarter financially to just throw away a
    printer when it needs ink.It’s a strange phenomenon. Companies are
    making products so inexpensive that when they break down (and critics
    argue that breaking down comes hand in hand with a cheap build), that
    repair is going out of style.DVD players that once cost hundreds of
    dollars can be purchased for $50.Laptop computer screens on a $600
    Toshiba Satellite laptop cost more than $400 to replace, once you
    figure in labor costs.

    Dropping prices
    And with desktop
    computer prices continuing to drop, shelling out $300 on a replacement
    motherboard looks less like a viable option every month.”In several
    industries — refrigerators, stoves and such — when they do the
    maintenance, they can’t just replace one part anymore,” said Jeff
    Brewer, an associate professor of computer technology at Purdue
    University.”There are so many parts put together. You don’t fix it, you
    replace the whole thing.”Some of the pieces have become so inexpensive
    now, that instead of paying $40 an hour for someone to diagnose the
    problem, you just go replace the piece. The acceleration is the
    difference between labor and product cost.”Even some cell phones can be
    thrown away without much thought. For $20, a customer can buy a
    pay-as-you-go phone off the shelf at an electronics store. If it gets
    dropped in a puddle, well, who cares, right?It all brings to mind a
    commercial spoof from the 1996 season of “Saturday Night Live,” wherein
    Will Ferrell shilled the Darnette Disposable Toilet — “fine porcelain
    fixtures for just $169.95 each” that could be replaced after every
    flush.Now, more than a decade later, disposable toilets aren’t vogue
    (yet), but higher-tech gizmos have become increasingly likely to end up
    in a trash can at the first sign of a problem.”Personally, I think it’s
    cheaper to throw them away because there’s no place to repair them
    anymore,” said Joe Ballard, director of the Vanderburgh County Solid
    Waste District.Ballard’s experienced the phenomenon firsthand. He took
    his VCR in for repair, went back a few days later and was told the
    machine could be fixed — for $120.”So I said, ‘Why?’ When I can buy one
    for $50 to $60.”High-tech purges aren’t causing problems in landfills
    because of their volume, Ballard said.”It’s fairly innocuous,” he said.
    “The problem is when people toss out old monitors, which have lead,
    nickel cadmium and mercury in them.”There are alternatives to sending
    that old printer or keyboard to the great trash heap down the street.
    Many nonprofits are always on the lookout for equipment for use in
    their offices. Many schools recycle empty printer ink cartridges for
    money. And cell phones can be donated to domestic violence safety
    shelters for use by victims.