FP ExplainersMay 18, 2022 18:07:53 IST
When Apple decided to remove the charging brick from the box of their smartphone, people and other smartphone manufacturers like Samsung and Xiaomi took little to no time to ridicule them, calling them greedy, and advertise the fact that, unlike their competition, they do provide a charging brick with their phones.
Cut to a few months later, the very smartphone makers who had once called Apple all sorts of names, started doing or rather, copying exactly what Apple did.
Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi and all other companies who say that the reason they don’t include the chargers with their phones anymore is because of the environment, are basically indulging in what is called greenwashing.
Greenwashing is the practice of marketing a company or organisation so they appear more environmentally friendly or more ecological (more natural, healthier, free of chemicals, recyclable, less wasteful of natural resources…) when in practice its activities pollute the environment. This applies to not just tech companies, but all kinds of manufacturers.
What actually happens, is that because a customer expects his new device to recharge at the highest possible rate, and smartphone manufacturers improve the charging abilities of their devices year on year, customers end up buying the latest charger, separately, with its own packaging, and shipping.
Now, people might assume that the reason Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi and others in their ilk might be ditching the chargers is mainly to get a couple of bucks from increased charger sales. However, that is a very superficial reading of the situation. Things are actually much more insidious than that. Here’s why:
Most of us either exchange our older phones or straight away sell them away when we upgrade to new phones. By removing the charger from the new phones, companies like Apple and Samsung, are in a way creating a hindrance for someone else, who would be a potential secondhand customer. At the very least, manufacturers are trying to push secondhand customers into buying a brand new charger from them. It is very difficult for people today to buy secondhand phones without a charger included in the box; normally, people would avoid such a deal if they can.
Boosting Wireless Earphones/Headphone sales
By claiming that they want to trim down their boxes as much as they can, smartphone manufacturers have also removed the included earphones that they used to provide. Yes, most new smartphones do not have the 3.5mm jack, but that did not stop them from providing a pair of USB-C headphones. Smartphone manufacturers now have an excuse to remove these headphones as well, since they already got rid of the chargers. And, if given a choice, would you rather buy a pair of Bluetooth headphones or earphones, a pair using USB-C? Certain smartphone makers even create combo packages, wherein you buy their latest smartphones, and you get a pair of their TWS earbuds for a fraction of their original cost.
Proprietary charging mechanisms
Apple clearly isn’t a fan of USB-C at least when it comes to implementing them on their iPhones. They would much rather have you charge your iPhones with the Magsafe charger. Apart from coming in its own packaging and everything, the Magsafe doesn’t even include a charging brick, so even if you are to use it, you would have to buy a charging brick separately.
Having said all that, tech companies do take initiatives that are for the environment. However, it wouldn’t be wise of us to expect that these companies would these initiatives come in the way of profits. Like any other regular business, tech companies will never leave an opportunity to eke out more money in the form of sales, even if it is to the detriment of the planet.