Sysadmins willing to cough up more for being green

Functionality the most important factor influencing buying decisions, not price, energy efficiency, design or brand name.

Green products could command a premium price is the message from a new survey of IT managers from across Europe. Study co-sponsor Lenovo said that IT managers have "high levels of green will."

Lenovo reckoned that the poll, which was co-sponsored by AMD, found that 82 percent of European IT managers claimed they would be happy to pay a price premium for an energy efficient product. The company interpreted this as a result of the belief that saving energy costs more, coupled with a latent desire for energy efficient technologies.

Most respondents (60 percent) said they were currently using PCs that were not energy efficient or EPEAT rated, since EPEAT registration was first available in June 2006. EPEAT is a system designed to help buyers evaluate, compare and select desktop computers, notebooks and monitors based on environmental criteria.

Many legacy PCs bought three years ago or more are now coming to the end of their refresh cycle, said Lenovo. In the U.K., 65 percent of IT managers currently use non-EPEAT rated PCs, a proportion similar to France (66 percent); half (50 percent) do so in Germany.

According to the survey, functionality was the most important factor influencing buying decisions when asked to choose between functionality, price, energy efficiency, design or brand name.

In the U.K., respondents were not brand-loyal and didn't care for design, with 53 percent opting for functionality. However, 31 percent would sooner make a purchasing decision based on a better price point. French IT managers were slightly more brand-loyal and held design in slightly higher regard, but 34 percent agreed that functionality was the most important factor influencing their purchasing decisions. Price came in a close second with 32 percent citing this as the main reason behind investing in a PC. In Germany, 54 percent of IT managers selected functionality as the number one reason behind a purchasing decision. Again, price came in a close second at 24 percent.

Over 600 CIOs and IT managers in mid-market companies (500-2,500 employees) were polled in the U.K., France and Germany during January 2008 by Red Shift.

Lenovo is attempting to prove that its low-energy desktops don't cost more, and is deploying its ThinkCentre A61e EPEAT Gold-rated desktop as evidence. However, on the same page of PC World's website as the Lenovo A61e 6449 is the Fujitsu Siemens Esprimo P2511, for which no green credentials are claimed - although Fujitsu Siemens Computers is noted for its efforts to design more energy-efficient machines.

The P2511, which houses an Intel Pentium Dual-Core E2140 1.60GHz CPU, costs £38.83 ($AU85) more (including tax) than the 512MB RAM Lenovo machine, but it also includes 1GB RAM, a 19-inch monitor and a DVD-RW drive, none of which the A61e possesses. To add these items, which are more necessities than luxury items, as extras to the A61e would push its price way above that of the FSC product.

Although the Lenovo product includes an 2.1GHz AMD Athlon X2 BE-2350 which redresses the balance somewhat, the small amount of bundled memory and lack of a monitor suggests that there's little substance to Lenovo's claims that its machines are no more expensive than devices for which no green claims are trumpeted.

Milko van Duijl, president Lenovo EMEA and senior vice president, said that his company's partnership with AMD continues to raise the bar for PC design and energy efficiency. "Being environmentally friendly is a critical success factor to doing business today, and it comes with palpable operational benefits, most notably, cost savings. We're making it our mission to raise awareness of this and give customers the opportunity to put their increasing environmental awareness into practice."

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Manek Dubash

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