Americans love their technology so much that we're now spending more money on technology than traditional utilities which include our lights, hot water, heating and cooling. How is that possible?
When television came onto the market, there was one TV per household and now haw many TVs do you have in your home? At first we had one share computer per family. Now we've got 1 computer per family member and often, and often an extra shared computer. Combine computers with smart phones and other electronic “must have” devices and the numbers are staggering.
The average couple has 7 devices and a family of 4, 11 pieces of technology according to iYogi Insights, a consumer research group. As we focus on reducing tradition energy usage, it seems like it's also time to explore the costs associated with our home based, consumer technology.
Buyer Beware of Home Technology Costs
You focus on technology costs when you buy a new computer, printer or smart phone. In reality it's the ongoing costs you don't focus on that really add up. For manufacturers, it's all about smart packaging and printers are a great example – their profit is in the ink!
You think you're getting a great deal when you wait to buy your printer on sale. Prices range from $150 to $350, so saving a hundred dollars is a great deal. Not really. They should give away the printers because you're going to pay 5, 10 or more times the printer cost with the price of ink cartridges.
Can you tell I'm not happy with my HP Photosmart C6180 All in One printer? It has 6 colors cartridges (magenta, pink, cyan, sky blue, yellow and black) and uses all of them even if I'm only printing black! We thought we'd save money only replacing one color at a time. Then we fell for the packaging and bought all the colors to save money, a really stupid decision but we're learning. There are 4 sky blue cartridges and 2 pink ones sitting in my drawer, and the ridiculous thing now is I have to constantly override the printer telling me I'm using expired ink which negates my printer warranty … and did I forget to mention that one full set of cartridges can cost more than the printer?
Adding Up Home Technology Costs
Technology costs include both one time charges like the purchase of a computer, smart phone and applications and ongoing costs like connecting to the Internet and cloud services like Carbonite's file backup services. The numbers are staggering and maybe it's because we don't look at the total cost but iYogi.com has done some detailed research into consumer spending on technology.
For now let's just look at the typical technology costs for an average family that's plugged in.
Consumer devices purchased can appear to be your biggest cost but I remember our first personal computer, and how the boxes kept arriving for months after with all sorts of software (before today's downloads were so easy, you got your applications on disk and had to insert them the computer to install).
- Desktop computer
- Laptop computers
- Televisions because they're not digital
- Tablets like the Apple iPad and eReaders, like Barnes & Noble's Nook
- Electronic game hardware like the Xbox and Wii
- Smart phones or maybe you've still got basic cell phones
- … and let's not forget the printers.
Running on these devices are all sorts of software and applications like the operating system, a browser, etc. While some of this software comes bundled with the device and lots more is available free, we ultimately pay for someone's investment to create the software.
- Operating systems like Windows
- Home office software like Microsoft Office
- Specialty software like Adobe for photographers
- Entertainment software, i.e. games, books and music
- … and smart applications for your phone, i.e. love my GPS.
The funniest smart phone application I've heard of is “Sit or Squat” which helps you find the closest bathroom when you're out and about. Too funny as they need to verify your age, so they ask “We need to confirm that you've been potty trained!”
Connecting your technology devices to the Internet is the real expense in your family's budget because these are costs you pay month after month, forever.
- Cable television and we're all subsidizing professional sports even if you don't watch a game.
- Traditional land lines are now being replaced by cell phones, or regular phones connected by VOIP like Vonage.
- Cell phone plans + data + text + whatever they dream up next … and we could all write a book about trying to avoid these scams.
- Internet service providers (ISPs) which connect your home, office, restaurants and the world to the Internet.
- Subscription services like Carbonite to back up your files online, are fairly new but they will quickly add up to big bucks added to your household budget.
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