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Apple’s Sustainability Strategy Raises the Bar for the Personal Devices Industry

by Werner Goertz  |  October 31, 2018  |  Submit a Comment

For decades, Apple has been a leader in UX/CX design and technology innovation. Its stringent design philosophy instilled by Steve Jobs (1) of starting with a delightful customer experience and working backwards towards a disruptive technology solution has set the bar for other technology providers such as Amazon (2). Under Tim Cook’s leadership, Apple’s messaging has emphasized a third design principle:

Design for Sustainability:
– Harvesting re-cycled components, raw materials and metals, without compromising the product
– Powering operations and facilities with 100% renewable energies
– Managing supply chains to ensure sustainable practices

Apple’s announcement events in March and October have followed a stringent messaging protocol: each new product announcement concluded with a statement about the degree to which sustainable materials are being used in manufacturing the device. Example: in the case of the 2018 MacBook Air, a new aluminum alloy was announced that improves stability, reduces weight and is made of 100% recycled aluminum.

Similarly, the over 500 Apple stores worldwide claim to be 100% powered by renewable energy sources. Earlier this year, Apple announced that its Mountain View, CA, headquarters are powered by renewable energy sources (3).

Apple audits its supply chain for sustainable practices: “Throughout our supply chain, we’re driving programs that minimize carbon emissions, eliminate landfill waste, conserve water, and replace unsafe chemicals.” (4)

Apple is thus setting a high bar for competitors to design for sustainability: Samsung Semiconductor claims an impressive 90% renewable power rate for the highly energy-consuming process of silicon wafer fabrication (5). Samsung Electronics, too, also publishes a sustainability report whose results, while impressive, have yet to match Apple’s accomplishments.

Personal device vendors should strive to meet the high focus on sustainability as a design philosophy, a product metric, and a messaging element. Apple’s example shows that this can be done without sacrificing product quality. It will attract environmentally conscious buyers (especially millenials) and be a product differentiator. It will appeal to those corporate clients who have fiduciary responsibility for sustainable governance as well as investors and socially/environmentally aware funds.

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(1) https://www.imore.com/steve-jobs-you-have-start-customer-experience-and-work-backwards-technology
(2) https://www.allthingsdistributed.com/2006/11/working_backwards.html
(3) https://news.sky.com/story/apple-now-powered-globally-by-100-renewable-energy-11324443
(4) Apple Supplier Responsibility 2017 Progress Report
(5) https://news.samsung.com/us/samsung-recognized-green-power-leadership/
(6) https://www.samsung.com/us/aboutsamsung/sustainability/report-and-policy/

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Werner Goertz
Research Director
1 years at Gartner
21 years IT Industry

Werner Goertz is a Research Director within Gartner's Personal Technnologies team, where he covers personal devices (smartphones, PCs/Ultrabooks, tablets/ultramobiles and wearables) and IoT. A special emphasis of his research lies in the Human Machine Interface (HMI) and multimodal I/O technologies: voice/speech processing and recognition, facial recognition and eye tracking, biometrics and motion/gesture control. Read Full Bio




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