John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Dell Green, All Right–Green With Envy

I’m not sure which is more surprising: that Dell would publicly criticize Apple’s environmental claims in a post to the company’s Direct2Dell blog or that anyone would pay any attention whatsoever to that post, which is poorly researched and as unwieldy and silly as late ’90s-era Inspiron.

Like a heckler emboldened by one-too-many Prairie Dogs, Dell lobs (DELL) catcalls at Apple’s latest MacBook ad, which claims the machine is the “greenest” notebook on the market, thanks to its environmentally responsible unibody enclosure and the recyclable materials from which it’s made. Dell apparently finds such claims to be disingenuous and would prefer us all to think that its notebooks are the greenest.

“We have repeatedly said we want to be the greenest technology company on the planet,” Bob Pearson, Dell’s VP of Communities & Conversations, writes. “This is our aspiration. It really motivates us inside Dell to chase this goal. It’s very different than saying ‘we have the greenest laptops,’ which Apple has said. Apple hasn’t stated any goals, just made claims, which as far as we can tell, are not accurate. Our Latitude E-series makes energy efficiency, the use of BFR/PVC-free components and the elimination of mercury a priority. They were designed and built with the environment and easy accessibility in mind, arguably more so than the Macbook.”

Moreover, Dell believes Apple (AAPL) doesn’t understand the real meaning of being green from the viewpoint of a Fortune 500 company. “We don’t recall Apple joining the conversation about the environment, either via key conferences or the blogosphere or via reporter meetings. In fact, we believe Apple employees are not allowed to blog, as far as we can tell. If you want to make ‘big claims,’ you should be willing to tell ‘big stories’ in an open environment and let others critique your efforts. Don’t skip this step and go right to ads that may not even be truthful.”

Now, leaving aside for a moment the fact that it’s a marketing message that’s at issue here and such things are, by their very nature, prone to exaggeration–have we already forgotten that a court found Dell guilty of false advertising less than a year ago? And leaving aside, too, the fact that Dell has fallen to 12th place from 5th place in Greenpeace’s Greener Electronics Ranking over the past few years (and yes, I’m aware Apple ranks 14th), one would think that any company planning to accuse Apple of making bogus claims about green laptops and failing to engage in a meaningful dialogue about its environmental obligations would conduct the due diligence necessary to back them up.

Not Dell, though.

Because if the company had done its due diligence, surely it would have stumbled across Steve Jobs’s “A Greener Apple” essay, which details the company’s efforts to remove toxic chemicals from its products and to recycle its older products. It might have found Apple’s 2008 Environmental Update as well. That document explains, in a fair bit of detail, the company’s efforts to temper the environmental impact not just of Apple products, but the company’s facilities, and offers a nice overview of Apple’s recycling program and Supplier Code of Conduct, too.

“We wish Apple would be more bold in making a difference rather than making ads,” says Dell. Perhaps it would be better served making its own difference, rather than making empty, poorly research accusations about its rivals.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik