Fairphone, the social enterprise that makes an Android smartphone built of raw materials sourced from conflict-free mines and built in exploitation-free factories, plans to make an even fairer phone in 2015. But the outfit has also revealed it has not yet managed to sell all of the 60,000 phones it has built to date.
Founder and CEO Bas van Abel says, in a post on the “Next chapter in Fairphone’s strategy” that everyone who has ordered a Fairphone now has it in their paws. 8,000 remain in the warehouse from the initial manufacturing runs of 60,000. Over 20,000 people pre-ordered the crowdfunded handset.
Even though there's inventory in the warehouse, van Abel says Fairphone is “a healthy social enterprise, independent from external investors, and we have the ability to invest.”
And invest it will, by creating its own design for the second Fairphone. The organisation's first effort was a licensed design. Working in that way got the phone out the door, but “ meant that our influence on the selection of components within the phone was limited.”
This time around, van Abel hopes to design from scratch in order to “... have more influence on supplier selection” and “improve our ability to innovate on longevity, repairability and recyclability in the design of the phone itself.”
Pre-orders for the new phone will open some time in mid-2015 and it should ship in 2016.
A point of comparison: Google says its Project Ara modular smartmobe design will emerge in early 2015.
Analyst outfit Canalys yesterday said 300 million smartphones shipped in the third quarter of 2014. Fairphone's goals are undoubtedly noble. But its sales and market share are miniscule, making those keenest on a smartphone's environmental and ethical features a tiny minority of the global buying public.
Perhaps the planned refresh will help things along: the €310.00 current model boasts Android 4.2, two SIM slots, an SD card slot, a 1.3MP front camera, 8MP version at the rear, 4.3-inch screen, a quad-core Mediatek 6589 Chipset and 16GB of memory. That's not a well-priced package by current standards, even if you also get root access to the OS and the chance to buy spare parts.
Improving specs and, as promised, selling the phone beyond Europe may improve Fairphone's fortunes. ®