Study: Not replacing laptops can prove very costly

Loss of warranties, lost productivity should convince IT to keep laptops in budget

Companies looking to cope with declining IT budgets by postponing the purchase of new laptop computers are likely making a mistake, according to a new report released by technology consulting firm J. Gold Associates.

Extending the use of laptops two years beyond the traditional three-year lifetime cost companies an average of US$1,050 per machine -- more than the replacement cost, the Northborough, Mass.-based firm found.

The added costs include a significant boost in repair costs due to old age and the end of three-year warranty periods, it added.

The use of outdated equipment also costs a company about $9,600 per laptop user in lost worker productivity over the two-year period, the study found.

Jack Gold, president of the consultant, said many companies are keeping a lid on new purchases because of the recession.

He added that some forward-thinking companies have taken the strong step of replacing laptops of some users with less expensive smartphones or other handheld devices. Such devices can be far more cost-effective for users who were using laptops mostly to access e-mail. "If you only read email, you can eliminate the laptop," Gold said.

The replacement of corporate laptops with mobile devices is likely to grow significantly over the next decade. In fact, Gold predicted that in less than 10 years, the majority of Internet users will be accessing the Internet via a mobile device instead of a laptop or desktop.

"Mobile devices are now being seen as mission critical," he said. "We're not quite at the point where organizations are completely replacing laptops with smartphones, but we're planning to research how much of that is being done."

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Matt Hamblen

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