Many of us have probably pondered that mobile phone manufacturers secretly set a timer for their device to self-destruct in one way or another shortly after the warranty expires. Doesn’t it always seem to work out that way? And while it’s likely just a minor issue – malfunctioning speaker, non-responsive screen, etc. – most of us aren’t tech-savvy enough to take apart our phones and fix it. So off we go to the Apple store, enraged, yet somewhat simmered by the fact that we’ll get the latest model (albeit at a cost of $800 or trapped in an insufferable three-year contract), and life goes on. It’s not ideal, but that’s how it is. And there’s seemingly no alternative.
Until this concept was revealed:
Phonebloks creator Dave Hakkens’ idea would be the most personally customizable mobile phone on the market. It gives users the ability to combine “bloks” to suit personal and individual needs; if you work in the arts, retrofit your base with a top-of-the-line camera and capable hard drive; if that’s not important to you, you can scale down the toys and allocate base space to more fitting features. Sounds pretty great, in addition to eliminating the cost of replacing an entire phone and reducing electronic waste worldwide.
There are a slew of challenges, of course, including but not limited to:
1. The hope that incredibly competitive tech giants are willing to sacrifice ego and profits in order to work together on this model.
2. Network providers will need a ton of convincing.
3. Getting entrepreneurs, CEOs, designers, researchers, developers and investors across so many industries on the same page takes time, so don’t expect a prototype anytime soon.
4. Compatibility between bloks manufactured by dozens, if not hundreds, of companies and developers will be an issue.
But based on the video’s positive reception by the general public so far, it’s clear that consumers are looking for an alternative to the current mobile phone purchasing cycle. With that overwhelming demand in mind, it’s a concept at least worth exploring and supporting.