The Hidden Cost of Cheap Chromebooks, Designed to Fail?

Lobby group the US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund has raised concerns about the lifespan of Google Chromebooks, which they claim expire too soon. According to the report titled "Chromebook Churn" published by US PIRG, this issue causes unnecessary expenses for public schools that are funded by taxpayers and inflicts environmental damage.

The Hidden Cost of Cheap Chromebooks, Designed to Fail

Planned Obsolescence of Chromebooks

US PIRG contends that Google stops providing updates after five to eight years, and this combined with the limited availability of spare parts and repairability hinder the device's longevity. The lobby group sees this planned obsolescence as a punishment for the public and the world.

The Environmental Impact of Chromebooks

In 2020 alone, 31 million Chromebooks were sold globally, resulting in approximately 9 million tons of CO2e emissions. According to the report, doubling the life of Chromebooks could cut emissions equivalent to taking 900,000 cars off the road for a year, more than the number of cars registered in Mississippi. The report claims that making parts more readily available and designing devices with modularity and repair in mind could save taxpayers up to $1.8 billion in hardware replacement expenses.

US PIRG's Demands

US PIRG wants Google to extend its ChromeOS update policy beyond the current device expiration dates. The lobby group is also urging hardware makers to make parts more available so their devices can be repaired easily. Additionally, US PIRG is demanding hardware designs that enable easier part replacement and service.


The US Public Interest Research Group Education Fund's report highlights the issue of Google Chromebooks' short lifespan and the resulting environmental and financial impact. The report calls on Google and hardware manufacturers to take steps to improve the longevity and repairability of Chromebooks, such as extending update policies and making parts more accessible.

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