Repairing computer
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Avoid rising repair costs by understanding TCO

The repair cost

The biggest trend for today’s latest high-end smartphones is that they’re covered with larger screens than ever before. Since they also are getting filled with more and more features it means that a lot of the hardware has limited space under these huge screens. The result of this is that these phones also are getting very fragile.

Everyone has probably had that breathtaking feeling when accidentally dropping your phone on a hard surface, such as the street. You know that moment when you’re almost too afraid to pick up the phone to see if the screen is broken or not.

If you live in Nigeria you definitely have the right to recognize yourself in this situation. To repair a damaged phone, and especially those high-end ones with screen problems could cost you up to 150 000 NGN which equals around $420. To repair a low-end phone on the other hand, won’t cost you more than around $140 (50 000 NGN). As a consequence of this, many people simply dump their high-end smartphone for a new really cheap one, rather than repairing it when it’s damaged.

Repair costs

In an interview with The Guardian, computer engineer Chijioke Magu said:

Most smartphone problems are usually damaged screens, which got broken in the process of handling.

He adds that he has close to 70 pieces of well-known brands dumped by their owners in his shop because they simply couldn’t afford to repair them, especially now when the economy is weak.

According to Magu, it’s a high possibility that phones, where the screen and other parts aren’t durable enough, are going to lose market shares in the next few years – especially the more high-end ones.

Rugged options

Here is where the really durable phones, labeled as rugged phones, come in. Earlier the rugged phones were deemed too big, heavy and unattractive, in a design point of view. But CCS Insight now states that the design improvements of the rugged phones make consumers that work in manual labor want to use a rugged phone as a primary device, as well as consumers that are fed up with the fragile consumer-grade phones in general.

Handheld Nautiz X9 Repair costs
The Nautiz X9 is one of the latest additions to the rugged handheld market.

As always, differentiation is key on the market but due to the big number of manufacturers offering very similar devices in form of design and features it’s becoming very challenging. In the example mentioned earlier, people in Nigeria are mainly looking for brands that offer durable devices. They, like everyone else, tend to look for a quick cheap solution when looking for a durable device. Rather than spending more money on a fully rugged device that would last much longer. Something which could turn out to be a costly mistake in the long run.

Understanding TCO

It’s important to understand the Total Cost of Ownership or TCO. Then you’ll see that fully rugged phones actually cost less than a non-rugged phone. And the key to doing this is to look beyond the purchase price.

When looking for a quick and easy solution buying new phones, most businesses base their buying decisions mainly on the product’s price. A price that doesn’t reflect the real cost of the unit. To truly evaluate the total cost of a product you need to look at the cost during its whole lifetime – and that’s what symbolizes the product’s TCO.

What’s included in the calculation is, of course, a lot. All the actual costs related to your device is taken into account. To make it a bit easier, the costs could be separated into hard costs and soft costs. Hard costs are such as the purchase price, development, replacement, and deployment costs. While soft costs include training, repair costs, and downtime costs.

Repair costs TCO-model
The main costs during the lifetime of a phone presented in a TCO-model. The hard costs are symbolized darker to the left and the soft costs are shown brighter to the right.

Taking advantage of TCO

To make it even more clear, let’s quickly analyze the total cost of 100 non-rugged mobile phones during 5 years.

As long as they’re not constantly kept inside an office at all times (which isn’t very mobile at all), at least a few of them will definitely be dropped out of your employee’s hands at some point during the 5-year span. The screen may not break in every single drop but the phones will certainly have to be repaired in one way or another… Which is a cost for the business. And also the cost of downtime that comes along, since your phone now is in the repair shop and not in the hands of your employee.

On the other hand, you’ll probably get a temporary phone to use, which might feel like a problem solver. But it will probably not be the one you’re used to or have the wrong setup so that will count as a training cost. Quickly it becomes clear that the TCO has passed the initial purchase price – by a lot.

Repair costs Tough work

Now imagine your employees using the phones in tough environments, and again, make a quick analysis. You’ll probably come to the conclusion that none of the initial units are operational after 5 years, since you during that period of time, surely have had to replace one or several units.

To conclude the case and prove it even further, the Venture Development Corporation (VDC) has brought together a calculation which shows that non-rugged devices will cost you about 65% more per year than using a fully rugged device. To see more of it and learn more about the advantage you can gain by understanding TCO, click here.

If you want to learn more about ruggedness in general, make sure to check out the category: All about Rugged.