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Do we really need another new gadget?

Tech heads and Apple enthusiasts around the world watched anxiously as new CEO Tim Cook announced one of the most eagerly awaited products of the year in the US last night…the iPhone 4S. In a move that has stunned many commentators, Apple has shelved plans for a completely revamped iPhone 5 that has been the subject of much media speculation, for an upgrade of the current version. While they’ve packed in some pretty impressive new features – it’s got greater processing power (incorporating the A5 chip), has been slimmed down and the camera now features full HD resolution video capabilities – the technical world has been largely underwhelmed.

And yet they’ll still sell millions, and the queues will stretch around the block come October 14.

Which begs the question for all business owners. Do you really need a new gadget?

While we’re in an area of incredible technological advances, our carbon footprint has never been greater. Did you know that back when mobile phones were first launched, we would hang onto them for three and a half years? As they moved away from a pure business tool and down to the mass markets as a means of personal communication, phone companies whittled this back to 24 months, thanks to the lure of a free device with every two year contract. And now, in 2011, with annual updates of smart phones and aggressive competition, we’re replacing our mobiles every year.

One of our regular contributors to the MYOB blog, ThePulse, Melina Schamroth is urging all business owners to join the collaborative campaign from the Brotherhood of Saint Lawrence and the Salvos, ‘Buy Nothing New Month’.  For the month of October, they’re encouraging ‘conscious consumption’, by asking business owners to stop and think before making a purchase.  The aim is to determine if it’s really essential, or just a ‘want’ – that we’ve been persuaded by clever copy and a jazzy marketing campaign into thinking that we ‘need’. Melina points to research that reveals that Australian’s spend 10 billion dollars each year on goods that we never use – clothes that we don’t wear, food that we don’t eat, DVD’s that we never watch. This far exceeds annual expenditure Australian Government shells out on universities and roads.

Imagine the improvement to the bottom line of many SME’s around the country if we cut back the unnecessary spending? And gadgets are a very easy way to start.

Got a computer that’s running really slow?  Before you replace it without a second thought, get a technician to restore it to its factory settings and clean up the hard drive. A quick defragment might be all it needs!

Need a projector for some meetings you have coming up over the next few months? Consider hiring, rather than buying. Or better yet, another business owner might be able to lend you one.

As business owners, our responsibility to contribute to the environment goes way beyond offsetting our flights or planting trees. If we can reduce the carbon footprint left by our business in the first place, we’ll be helping make a difference, and saving money at the same time. That’s what I call #winning!

Do you upgrade gadgets in your business regularly? How much of the estimated $10 billion in unused goods do you think your company contributes?

What do you think?

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Julian Smith

Julian Smith

Julian Smith is responsible for MYOB’s corporate affairs, government and public relations in Australia and New Zealand and is also New Zealand general manager. The qualified lawyer has spent much of his career at large multinationals in a range of senior legal, sales, marketing and customer management roles. Julian is a regular keynote speaker and business commentator and sits on a number of government and industry boards and advisory panels. Julian can be found on Twitter <a href="http://www.twitter.com/JulianTSmith">@JulianTSmith</a> or contacted via email Julian.smith@myob.com

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