One of the things that is vital to the Pale Blue Earth business model is doing things in such a way as to promote positive impacts on the environment. We believe consumers can help us do that if we give them choices. In other words, people should be able to choose high quality rechargeable batteries instead of being left to purchase single-use alkaline cells. We give them that choice.
Microsoft has come down on the side of choice by continuing to ship its Xbox controllers with replaceable batteries. We bring this up due to recent allegations suggesting Microsoft was being forced to maintain its controller design by an agreement with Duracell to ship their batteries.
First, Microsoft says there is no contractual agreement requiring them to use Duracell batteries in their controllers. Second, they say the real reason is one of consumer choice. Microsoft has decided they don't want to force customers to purchase controllers with built-in batteries they cannot change.
Replaceable vs. Hardwired Batteries
Let us address the choice issue from two angles, beginning with the replaceable vs. hardwired angle. Nearly every modern smartphone comes with a built-in battery. Where cell phone batteries used to be replaceable years ago, they aren't anymore. Phone manufacturers have gone with the built-in design because it gives them more internal space for adding technology features.
This is all well and good, but what does a phone owner do when their battery no longer holds a sufficient charge? They either have to fork out hundreds of dollars for a new phone or take their existing phone to an authorized dealer for battery replacement. Neither option is cheap. Unfortunately, the owners do not have a choice. Manufacturers have taken that choice away from them.
The same is true in the gaming world. Most of Microsoft's competitors have transitioned to built-in batteries for their controllers. Gamers are left with the same uncomfortable choice when the controller battery stops working. Does that make sense? Not really. Every time you deny consumers a choice, you are forcing them into a single way of doing things. That is neither good nor fair.
If an on-board nonreplaceable battery were to fail, the device, while still good, is now useless. If the the device were to have an issue, how you have a good battery going to waste. In either case, repair and/or disposal are not easy, and recycling is very challenging. This undoubtedly creates more electronics waste finding its way to the landfill.
Rechargeable vs. Disposable
The other angle to look at is the rechargeable of vs. disposable angle. Let's be honest about one thing: though Microsoft might be shipping disposable Duracell batteries with its Xbox controllers, it is in no way forcing customers to continue buying alkaline batteries after the first set runs out. Consumers can choose any AA batteries they want.
An Xbox controller will work just fine with Pale Blue Earth USB rechargeable batteries. In fact, the controller will not know the difference. Neither will the console. As far as the two devices are concerned, batteries are batteries.
Microsoft's design choice is one that puts control in the hands of its customers. Gamers can keep buying disposable alkaline batteries month after month, year after year. They can save time and money by investing in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries instead. But it turns out they don't have to use batteries at all. Microsoft's controllers can be plugged directly into the console via a USB cable.
Choice is always a good thing. Giving consumers the freedom to choose how they want to do things empowers them to do what they think is best. Where batteries are concerned, we believe the better choice in most cases is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. That's why we are dedicated to helping reduce alkaline battery waste by encouraging people to purchase Pale Blue Earth rechargeable batteries instead. But at the end of the day, it is still their choice.