Fairphone avoids sourcing materials from conflict zones or using factories with poor labour practices (AFP,
The Dutchman behind the Fairphone says it avoids sourcing materials from conflict zones or using factories with poor labour practices, taking as its model the coffee and banana “fair-trade” industry.
More than 15,000 people have already ordered the new handset, which sells for
“The responsibility is enormous,” he told AFP at the unveiling of the Fairphone’s prototype at the London Design Festival.
“These 15,000 people trust me. If the factory which makes the devices is engulfed by an earthquake, I am going to have to refund them one-by-one.
“When I think about it I can’t even sleep or eat.”
The Fairphone prototype looks much like its competitors, Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy, but the designers say there is a world of difference.
Fairphone describes itself as a “social enterprise” that has essentially crowd-sourced its funding from the thousands of people who have ordered the device without ever actually seeing one.
Realising that cobalt was also used extensively to make handsets,
The Fairphone is also designed to be less energy-hungry and more easily recyclable than current smartphones.
It is still manufactured in
“If we (take production) to
Fairphone is in talks with several operators including
“We understand that this represents a lot of money but giving away a phone for free removes all of its value and people don’t hesitate to throw it away as soon as there is a slight problem,” said
Making the handsets easily disposable would defeat Van Abel’s hopes of creating a new business model.
“An outsider might see Fairphone as a group of activists claiming the whole industry is rotten, but it is not that at all,” he argued.
“We want to be part of the system, not to fight against it, but to change it from the inside.”
Apple and Samsung are giants in need of a shake up, he believes.
“Samsung, Apple and all the big players have made so many innovations in the last years that they actually made the existence of Fairphone a possibility,” he stressed.
“Fundamentally the big companies are stuck,” he explained. “It’s not fun for them to read in the newspapers that another Chinese worker has committed suicide in one of your factories.
“They would do something, but the system prohibits them,” he stated. “This is why we want to change it.”
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