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WAF and The Gadget Graveyard

John Federico

If you're a gadget person, you know exactly what the Gadget Graveyard is. It's that place in your home or office where obsolete (or poorly chosen) gadgets lay in wait for the day when you finally deem them acceptable to discard.

By the time items make it to the Graveyard, you might consider your investments a total loss. Examples of this include my Minstrel CDPD modem for my Palm III or my Glenayre @ctivelink SpringBoard module for my Visor Deluxe.

Of the four gadgets just mentioned, only the Visor is really still useful. (For someone, but not for me.) They've all been sitting in storage for a number of years, obsolete and collecting dust.

eBay has brought an end to the Gadget Graveyard.

Thanks to eBay, when a gadget has reached the end of it's useful life (for you, anyway), you can always find a good home for it. And, as I've touched on before, eBay also provides an interesting opportunity to partake in some cheap gadget thrills.

I just picked up a Kyocera SE47 "Slider" cell phone for the Verizon Wireless network in almost new condition. The previous owner even included a really durable car charger and leather case. (I'm not fond of most leather cases, but it may be useful at some point.)

The phone, without accessories, retails anywhere from $239 to $279. My cost? $96. Not bad.

My other phones? They'll be sold on eBay, of course. The sale of a Motorola V60C and Motorola T730C should fetch enough to pay for a new car kit for the Slider, which enables this purchase to have a high WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor). Ladies, your purchases (gadgets or otherwise) would be subject to the HAF (Husband Acceptance Factor).

Of course, this scale of measurement could just be unified (and made more appropriate for our times) into the SOAF (Significant Other Acceptance Factor). ;)

In my house, this is the greatest significance of eBay. See, pricey gadgets that end up in the Graveyard have a low WAF. eBay transforms nearly all gadget purchases (at least the upgrades, anyway) into purchases scoring higher on the WAF scale.

So, on a scale of 1 to 10, this purchase has a WAF of 8. Why not a nine or ten? WAF/SOAF is highly dependent on the recency of other gadget purchases. Since I just purchased a Powerbook and iPod in December, it negatively impacts the WAF of the current purchase, even though the net cash outlay will be neutral or even positive. While there's no real science to the WAF, it might be expressed like this:

Expense + Utility + Introduction + Recency = WAF

Definitions:

Expense is obvious, except in the case of upgrades, which usually involve the sale of an obsolete (or boring) model, usually resulting in a negative (but sometimes positive) net cash outlay. This is calculated as the cost of the gadget, sans the cash generated by the sale of your other device(s).

Utility refers to the usefulness of the gadget. For instance, a Playstation scores low on utility; a car charger scores high. The more expensive car charger that speaks the status of the charging activity in a human voice has a lower utility score, especially if the bugger cost 50% to 100% more than a basic one. ("Wouldn't the kind that came with it work just as well?")

Introduction refers to the existing presence of the device in your lifestyle. Is it a replacement, upgrade or new introduction? For instance, replacing a broken car charger scores high in this regard. After all, your other one broke and you need mobile power, right? Upgrading my cell phone, as I mentioned above, scores lower. ("Honey, what was wrong with your old one?") New introductions score very low. ("Schnookums, do you really need a USB cable with a flashing LED?") (For the record, I don't own any...yet. And my wife has never used the pet name "Schnookums...")

Recency refers to the time elapsed since your last gadget purchase. The greater the elapsed time, the higher the score. ("Didn't you just buy a new iPod last week?")

Without question, all of this depends on the disposition of your SO (Significant Other). My wife is my best friend and the coolest lady I know, but even she reaches a point of frustration as boxes of gear enter and leave the house via the UPS guy. Your mileage may vary.

You might ask yourself, "Doesn't your personal financial situation come into play?"

The answer is "maybe."

Even if I were "Bill Gates Wealthy", the toys would get bigger but the WAF would remain the same. ("Honey, did you really need another Gulfstream?")

Of course, it'd be a bit more difficult to find a buyer for the old Gulfstream on eBay...