Today I would like to discuss the great idea of Dave Hakkens: the phonebloks.
This idea went virally through the web few days ago, and a lot of people showed a great interest in that project. An unexpected success for the designer.
Unfortunately, its chance to be on the market is low.
The concept is a smartphone built as a Lego. It’s made of blocks which have each a function: screen, processor, storage, camera, battery, etc.
So if the screen is broken or if the battery is getting old, you can replace only this element.
All companies are invited to design blocks for this phone, and all blocks of all brands will be exposed on an online shop. This way, the consumer would choose his components and their brand.
Moreover, the phonebloks was basically designed to reduce electronic waste and fight against the programmed obsolescence of electronic devices.
Here is the video showing the phonebloks (it’s only a concept so far):
Check out the official website: www.phonebloks.com/
I won’t discuss technological issues because I don’t have enough competences. Nevertheless, I want to discuss the market and the environment of this possible future phone.
Why phone manufacturers won’t design blocks?
First of all, this phonebloks is against the programmed obsolescence, an engine of growth for actual phone manufacturer: a broken screen can’t be fixed, and a new phone from a brand makes the previous one old enough to be throw away (Apple is the master in this field).
According to this, the phonebloks could be a serious competitor. Moreover, the entire business model of phone makers would be in danger. In this case, why manufacturer would participate in the phonebloks project by manufacturing blocks? If they do so, they will accelerate their falls, or, at least, reduce their market shares with a new entrant.
A phonebloks more expensive than usual smartphone?
Secondly, if manufacturers finally design some blocks, it should increase the average smartphone price. Phone makers make profits on an entire smartphone, not on each component. If they design an expensive processor, they will find a way to reduce costs of other components to keep their ROI.
At the opposite,if they sell each components apart, they have to make profits on each of them. Moreover, risks are higher to manufacture and sell so much components. This have consequences on the average price of components. So, at equal performance the phonebloks will be more expensive than a usual smartphone.
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