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To buy genuine or not to?

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So why should you buy genuine goods. Be it printer cartridges, laser toners, software, hardware and other enticingly cheaper products? GAVIN MOFFAT takes a look at both sides of the argument.

The argument AGAINST is manifold. Moral. Legal. Business sense. The argument FOR runs along similar lines and tends to find a lot more excuses to make it valid e.g. ‚Why worry about whether it is legal or stolen – I am getting a great price‚ . This is not a piece about moralising what is right and what is wrong. OK, it is just a little about right and wrong.

Mostly it’s about the fact that most brands expend an inordinate amount of effort into creating products and services (other than those that invest in back-engineering). This is termed research and development (R&D). In the pharmaceutical industry billions of dollars are ploughed into investigating the properties of earthly substances, what they can be used for creating new drug formulas and testing.

In the PC world, or more so now in the world of mobile, R&D is aimed at trying to find the next big killer application or device that will solve all of the world’s problems. This may be the invention of the mobile phone, the PC, the tablet PC, the netbook, Ultrabook or the games console. This form of R&D is itself fraught with dangers as the hit rate of invention to success is slight. For each iPhone or iPad the labs are scattered with products that never made it past the drawing board, let along to mock up.

If this R&D did not happen, say for example because the organisation was not earning sufficient revenue off its products because they were being knocked off at a third of the price in China, there would be little motivation to innovate, other than mere existence. That would mean that progress and development of products and services (other than those based on protected intellectual property) would stagnate.

The argument FOR buying anything other than legal? Well it’s generally one that takes place in the subconscious and is probably about people feeling justified that the brand is charging them too much and the non-genuine article is around the price they determine they should be paying. Or, they do not have the money to pay for the product that they want. The price issue is certainly the strongest motivator with business feeling that the additional couple of points on margin are worth it.

In the printer industry counterfeit or pirate parts tend not to be of the same quality as the originals. Mostly they affect the life expectancy of the machines and results in lower yields either of page counts per minute or of quality of print.

Software is a little more difficult to quantify as the illegal product you may be using still works, like the original. In this case it’s just about ethics and morals. If you are one of the South Africans, and who isn’t, that is concerned about crime and wants to do more to combat it, should you be supporting products that have fallen off a truck?

The bottom line is that innovation is driven by a person or organisation’s motivation to stretch the boundaries. If there is no reward for envisioning the next big (or small) thing, then there is generally little motivation. So buying genuine computer and hardware products doesn’t just make commercial sense, morally it’s a victory too.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @gadgetza

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