Disrupting the telecoms industry and consumer behaviour with chargers out of the box

Part two of four finds The Think Big team at O2 talking about disrupting the market to create lasting behavioural change, on a mass scale, to build sustainable solutions and contribute to our goal of helping 10 million people live more sustainable lives. 

How can we disrupt the market to create positive environmental impacts?  Take the charger out of the box. 

Earlier this month we announced the launch of another handset as part of our ‘Charger out of the Box’ initiative, this time the flagship HTC One smartphone. This is one of the most important handset launches of 2013 for both HTC and ourselves and we’re excited to have it as part of the ‘Charger out of the Box’ initiative.

This launch builds on the success of last year’s pilot where we partnered with HTC to launch our very first mobile phone sold without a charger – the HTC One X+.  This was the first time that any UK based network had been bold enough to make this ground breaking step.  In fact, we believe it was the first time any network anywhere did this.

We want to reduce the amount of environmental waste that spare and redundant chargers create.  There are millions of unused chargers lying around UK homes and offices.  It’s estimated that that 30 million new phones are purchased annually in the UK alone.  If chargers are acquired each time we purchase a new handset think about the duplication we are creating in waste and resources.  Not to mention the amount of cluttered drawers!

Now that standardised chargers are available on the market, our thinking is that customers are likely to have a suitable charger at home already.

Since the launch of the pilot, 82% of customers who bought the charger-free handset didn’t buy a separate charger – confirming that customers really don’t need a new charger every time they purchase a new phone.

This illustrates how important customers’ environmental values and motives are in driving behaviour change within the industry.  It demonstrates how existing systems and existing ways of doing things (in this case needing a brand new charger to charge your mobile phone) can be challenged and redesigned to achieve the same outcome (a charged mobile phone) but with significant improvements to the environment.

By 2015, our ambition is to provide all handsets without a charger and extending this initiative to the HTC One is an example of how we’re paving the way to achieve this.  We have started with one partner but we have longer-term aspirations to engage with more manufacturers and operators to shake up the industry as a whole and to drive lasting behaviour change that will create huge environmental savings and help customers to live more sustainably.

We already have more handsets in the pipeline to be sold without a charger this year – so watch this space!

Charger out of the box is an example of how we are exploring new ways of using products and changing consumers’ behaviour.  It is part of our wider Eco rating project, another way of how we are helping consumers to make choices based on their environmental concerns, whilst also incentivising the industry to improve the sustainability of their products.

To find out more about our sustainable goals and initiatives see the Think Big Blueprint on our website.