Where’s the refurbished IT gear?

Headshot-website-203x300Walking through the PlayStation 3 section of my local Virgin Megastore recently, I came across something amazing – the chain has started accepting trade-ins as partial payment for new games.

Anyone familiar with local gaming will know that this is a monumental development. The second-hand games market used to simply consist of individuals selling off big collections of games on Dubizzle when they’d finished with them. The retail stores had nothing to do with it, unlike in the UK, where second-hand games make up a huge part of the gaming ecosystem.

But that got me thinking – just as the local second-hand games market is almost non-existent, so, too, is the local second-hand IT hardware market. In Europe and the U.S., resellers and distributors have entire divisions dedicated to buying up old gear, refurbishing it, and selling it on for a profit. And the gear is cheaper for end-users to buy, so everyone wins.

Who does this in the Middle East? Almost no-one is the answer. Having done some digging, the only company I can see that seriously specialises in refurbished gear is Sims Recycling Solutions (SRS). In May, the firm struck a deal with Microsoft to supply refurbished PCs that have been installed with genuine Microsoft software.

Such a deal makes perfect sense for a company that offers asset management and end-of-life solutions for IT assets. If it can get away with selling on old hardware instead of spending cash on destroying it in an environmentally friendly manner, why wouldn’t it?

But this is just PCs we’re talking about – as far as I know, SRS doesn’t currently sell on refurbished high-tech gear. Indeed, hardly anyone does. I’ve heard unconfirmed rumours that Comstor sells refurbished Cisco gear, but that’s all I’ve come across. Having asked around, no-one seems to know anyone that I can talk to about the matter.

I wonder why this is. The big vendors like Cisco, HP and Dell all have refurbished hardware programmes, either buying back old gear and selling it on direct, or else letting their partners have it. And the gear is never even that “old” – HP says on its website that most of its refurbished equipment comes in about six to 18 months after its initial launch. Sure, 18 months might be a while for a PC, but if we’re talking servers, there’ll still be a lot of life left in the product.

We’re always hearing about partners exploring new avenues so that they can take advantage of additional revenue streams. So why aren’t people jumping at the chance to sell on refurbished hardware? Maybe some end-users don’t like the idea of buying second hand, but if I had my own SMB, for example, I’d definitely shop around for a decent second-hand deal – just like I did when buying video games in the UK.

Perhaps I’m missing something here, but I can’t imagine it’d be that difficult for a big distributor or reseller to skill up a few technicians to refurbish old gear. Once they’ve done that, they’ve got a new way to offer customers a great deal.










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