Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Put on hold...

The industry ships 1.8 billion new mobile phones per year. Only 11 per cent of the devices recycled in the US.

The phonebloks concept – a vision for a modular smartphone that could be put together by consumers as if they were making it out of building blocks. There would be a standard-sized "base" or motherboard and after that it would be up to you to plug in components ('"bloks") as you chose. As the video says, if you "love to take pictures, why not upgrade your camera?" Or if you use cloud storage, why not replace your storage blok with a larger, longer-lasting battery? And if a part breaks, or you want a newer version, you need only to replace the relevant part. No need to pay for, or dispose of, a whole phone.  A system whereby people could obtain individual parts from multiple manufacturers could extend the life of phones and eliminate "built-in obsolescence".

"The phone companies are capable of building a phone that lasts for 10 years," a Dutch designer called Dave Hakkens says. "But the strategy and the economic system are not built in that way.

There will be other obstacles for Phonebloks to overcome. The handset market is dominated by Samsung and Apple. Samsung sells more than double the handsets of its Californian rival, which, in turn, sells more than three times as many as the nearest challenger. "Even companies that have been doing it for a long time with huge marketing budgets still aren't able to break through," says Lomas. "If BlackBerry can't make it work with its budget, there's no way a project like this is going to."

Natasha Lomas, a writer for the technology website TechCrunch. also adds it may be the speed at which technology is developing that scuppers Phonebloks' chances. "The pace of change in the industry is so quick, you just can't plan for a handset that far in advance," she says. "We might not even be using phones in a decade, we could be using a chip in our brains or something like that."

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