Phonebloks. The new smartphone concept, launched by Dave Hakkens, features a smartphone that contains multiple components or “bloks”, which look very much like Lego bricks. The idea behind the design is to move away from traditional sealed smartphones that have no replaceable parts and prevent major customization.
The concept video (shown below) features a phone that contains a screen blok, and “the base” which other bloks would plug into. Each component of the phone such as the memory, battery, camera, etc. would be available as its very own blok, which users could then replace or upgrade on their existing phone. For example, if you don’t need too much memory, you can replace your existing memory blok with a smaller one. If you take a lot of pictures, you can add in a more powerful camera blok. If you want a larger battery, you can buy a larger battery blok and so on.
The main focus of Phonebloks is a user’s ability to upgrade or customize their phone without any restrictions that traditional smartphones may have. Just as desktop PC users upgrade various components, PhoneBloks users could theoretically upgrade their phone while keeping the same “base” for many years. This phone is still only a concept, and Hakkens is currently using Thunderclap, a crowd-speaking platform, to show the smartphone industry how many people are interested in it.
This modular concept may not seem lucrative for existing smartphone makers, since they benefit from selling new phones every few years. However, if Phonebloks does generate enough interest from consumers, it may very well reshape the entire smartphone industry. The possibility of a fully customizable (and affordable) phone, which can be upgraded regularly, along with the new “no-contract” plans provided by cellphone carriers may usher in a more efficient, consumer-friendly market for smartphone users.
There are still many technical issues facing Phonebloks and although there will be substantial resistance from smartphone makers, the industry may very well be facing a similar adaptation of this concept in the next few years.
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