Beyond the incentives for the adoption of eco-responsible reflexes in terms of technology, some countries believe that it is time to toughen up the tone to obtain tangible results. This is the case with Germany.
The European Commission hopes to impose five-year software support for smartphones in order to combat planned obsolescence. Insufficient in the eyes of Germany, whose government insists that this minimum period be extended to seven years, as regards both operating system updates and security updates.
Updates, but also spare parts and delivery times
With such a measure, our neighbors across the Rhine would like to force smartphone manufacturers to adopt a more eco-responsible approach. Similarly, Berlin would like the said manufacturers to be required to offer spare parts for their devices for a period of time (six years for tablets). Parts for which the invoice could be capped and the delivery time necessarily less than five days.
Germany has set 2023 as a deadline for the implementation of such measures which, as we can imagine, do not only make manufacturers happy. From one brand to another, smartphone tracking and responsiveness to updates can indeed vary widely. Most of the time, software tracking is done over two years and security updates over three. As for spare parts, some firms would like to have to respect such commitments only concerning screens and batteries.
More restrictive measures
In France, the recently introduced repairability index allows each consumer to have an idea of the monitoring that will be provided by the manufacturer of a smartphone (but also other products such as laptops). This index could evolve in the long term towards one of sustainability, more general and taking into account these software considerations to fight globally against planned obsolescence. However, these are incentives that come with no constraints. However, according to Germany, it is time to force the hand of the manufacturers to create a more virtuous ecosystem from an ecological point of view.
Technically, a few questions still arise. If the smartphone renewal cycle tends to lengthen, the refurbished sector is booming and everyone is well aware that efforts are needed in terms of ecology, it is not easy to imagine the technological jewels that we have in our pocket will work for seven years. In the tech world, such a period can seem like an eternity as habits, uses and needs change rapidly.
A lifecycle that is already lengthening
Nevertheless, it is no longer possible to deny a part of deleterious waste for the environment linked to these products which have a very high ecological cost (it would take 70 kg of raw materials to manufacture a single phone, according to a Senate report). It is also logical – and somewhat reassuring – to see certain States move forward on ambitious environmental strategies concerning these issues.
Manufacturers will have to adapt to these new constraints and some say they are ready to accompany such changes, such as Samsung, which is already seeing that the average duration of use of its mobiles has fallen from 21 to 29 months over the past five years. Apple, for its part, already recalls that it supports its software on a number of generations of smartphones much greater than its competitors, which cannot be taken away from it.
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