Last Friday I read about Phonebloks and today Fairphone, another smart phone company claiming to approach design in a more responsible and critical way. Is a “socially aware” trend developing in one of the biggest consumer goods markets?
Can this really be happening?
From the online PR it appears that Fairphone is asking important questions and is willing to lead by example with it’s sights set on the most noble but difficult mission; to reform design practice, business models and consumer culture and promote a fair and sustainable future.
Promoting best practices, brand transparency, visibility to industrial issues and spark positive change within the entire “product ecosystem”.
Fairphone’s aims also include:
1. Making smartphones with traceable conflict free raw materials.
2. Bringing about positive labor practices in notoriously corrupt and dangerous countries.
3. Creating smartphones designed for easy parts replacement and customization.
But such a hugely reforming and idealistic mission sounds too be true. Amongst other things I think they may have underestimated the power and pervasiveness of corruption and the loose business parameters in poorer countries from where their materials will be sourced and their products made. How transparent are their suppliers and how do they really operate?
Critical factors that are hard to grasp when you have always lived in a rich country with a well established infrastructure, where most people can afford to willingly pay taxes, where there is good healthcare and there are there are no militias raiding your business with AK47’s.
However that being said, without a spark there can be no fire, so good luck to them. Kudos for swimming against the current and exposing themselves to a dangerous environment in the name of positive change. Going forward I think the world needs as much social and environmentally responsible product as we can get.
I wish them the stamina to grow their brand and reach their goals.
Check out some interesting Fairphone videos and interviews after the jump.
Read more about Fairphone HERE