Will modular smartphones help reduce e-waste ?

An article in CNN.com (http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/19/tech/innovation/phonebloks-the-smartphone-for-life/index.html?hpt=hp_bn5) describes a proposal by the company Phonebloks (www.phonebloks.com) to create smartphones with a modular design that enables individual phone owners to customize the phone. With individual units such as the camera, battery, storage etc that can be upgraded as needed, the design will relegate hardware companies to become component providers, similar to audio equipment component manufacturers. The goal is to reduce the estimated 20 to 50 million tons of e-waste. But will hardware manufacturers cooperate with such a platform based product that relegates them to sell components ? Will customers embrace the ability to get the specific functionality they desire in their phones ? Is there a logic to using government regulations to demand that the industry focus on decreasing ewaste as a driver of such changes or would that result in phones that make consumers worse off with respect to innovation and functionality?

About aviyer2010

Professor
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3 Responses to Will modular smartphones help reduce e-waste ?

  1. Yuntao Guo says:

    I think this is a great idea. I also signed up for their project on their website. Now the total number of people signed up to support this reaches 295,953,459. One type of iPhone only last for 1 year and then everyone is moving on to the so called “next big thing”. But the so called innovation only include the updated camera and more colors. I think the Phonebloks will speed up the innovation, because the whole world is designing the phone if this idea is launched.
    I am not sure it is necessary for the government to involve at this stage.

  2. Qiutong Zhang says:

    Even though it is a good way to reduce the e-waste, I do not think that is reliable. Customers may not get a clear understanding of the functions they need. If this allow the customers do the customerization, it means more labour will be needed to deal with this process.It will increase the costs.

  3. Abhishek Sengupta says:

    I think the use of modular smart phones would actually increase the e-waste. As it is mentioned here that the smart phone can be easily upgraded and the components would be available in the market, people would upgrade their phones whenever there is such an option. So number of e-wastes can increase.

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