Are smart phones now driving dematerialisation?
I have always been sceptical of the argument that multi-function devices like smart phones are eco-friendly by avoiding the need for a stack of equivalent individual devices (in this case MP3 players, digital cameras, wrist watches etc). I have an iPhone which did stop me purchasing a voice recorder for the interviews for The Green Executive (there was an app for that), but I already had an iPod, a digital compact camera, a watch etc, etc so the phone hasn’t offset the purchases of those devices (although I am less likely to upgrade them in future).
But, for the younger generations at least, this now seems to be changing. They are increasingly living their lives around a single device. To take one example of the commercial impact of this, sales of point and click cameras were down a staggering 30% last year – a fall attributed to the use of camera phones, and no wonder – you take the picture, edit it and upload it to Facebook with just a few taps on that slick touchscreen. Even my dad has started reading the morning news on his phone, and smart phones are said to be the guitar tuner of choice amongst the younger bands.
It is probably just old fogeys like me who have spent long enough in the analogue age to have accumulated so much electronic baggage. The younger generations do not need to have as much physical stuff as we did – whether cameras, magazines or stacks of CDs – and that can only be a good thing. It is also a trend which business needs to take cognisance of – or they could end up in the same dire straits as Kodak.