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Mobile Handset Makers Struggle to Go Green

LR Mobile Column
LR Mobile Column
LR Mobile Column
5/28/2010

Mobility has had a profound impact on the way we communicate globally. It is already difficult to imagine anyone without a mobile phone, and by 2013 there are expected to be between 5 billion and 6 billion mobile subscribers worldwide. However, given that the number of mobile subscribers will grow rapidly over the next three years, the multiplication of mobile phones will become an environmental issue.

It is certainly not at the forefront of the minds of numerous consumers when they buy their first mobile phone or upgrade their to a newer model that they are harming the environment. Nevertheless, the production and use of mobile handsets and their accessories have come under great scrutiny. Between the materials that are used and the number of mobile phones that people can own over their lifetimes, one can begin to understand how a simple mobile phone can have a huge negative environmental impact.

While companies in the information and communications technology sector recognize that they can improve their environmental practices, they would all agree that the design, manufacturing, and distribution of mobile phones is a prime example of how they still have much room to improve in the area of sustainability. To that end, both governmental bodies and industry-led consortia have created many initiatives to support the creation and distribution of "green" mobile handsets. Some handset manufacturers have been aggressive in their efforts to offer these devices globally, but these efforts vary significantly by region. The industry still has more work to do in promoting consistent eco-friendly practices worldwide.

The latest edition of Heavy Reading Mobile Networks Insider, "Mobile Handsets: It's Not Easy Being Green," analyzes the current state of "green" mobility and the challenges that companies, specifically handset manufacturers, face in promoting this type of product to the marketplace. The report also discusses the approaches that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have taken to become more eco-friendly from a product and operational perspective. Right now, the biggest challenge in addressing the environmental impact of mobile phone consumption is how government support, consumer awareness, and OEM practices differ regionally. Given the lack of coordination worldwide, the growth and acceptance of the green mobile device segment will face an uphill battle.

While the green mobile segment has yet to reach critical mass, there has not been a lack of innovation in product design, process improvement, and promotional aids to call attention to this segment. The report also profiles handset vendors' eco-friendly offerings and practices, to illustrate their commitment to environmental sustainability. While these efforts may only scratch the surface at present, there remains a huge opportunity for handset OEMs to influence both their consumers and their own partners to become more eco-friendly.

— Aileen Arcilla, Contributing Analyst, Heavy Reading Mobile Networks Insider


The report, "Mobile Handsets: It's Not Easy Being Green," is available as part of an annual subscription (6 issues per year) to Heavy Reading Mobile Networks Insider, priced at $1,595. Individual reports are available for $900. To subscribe, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/mobile-networks.

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