Phoneblok Exposes the Future of Tech

Imagine a smart phone that didn’t have to be upgraded when your plan or company dictated. A smart phone that will remain functional for years to come without being discarded. One that will handle iPhone 4s case requirements and beyond.

You don’t have to imagine. That’s the premise behind PhoneBlok, a new concept in smart phone upgrades that relies on a modular, integrated concept that allows users to swap and build its components.

It’s a revolutionary way of thinking of electronic manufacturing, but it’s as old as the plastic LEGO blocks used by children all over the world and as new as the iPhone 4s case. Simply put, it allows smart phone owners to control the experience, not electronics manufacturers.

The Solution to Planned Obsolescence

The concept was devised by Dave Hakkens, a dreamer who frowned at the planned obsolescence of the smart phone industry. Tired of constantly being forced to upgrade and discard a perfectly good smart phone, he came up with the idea of making the phone’s components uniform and interchangeable.

It works like this:  all of the smart phone’s components are standardized. Instead of each smart phone company creating its own ecosystem, the Hakkens methodology requires a uniform style for each of the dozen-odd components that go into a smart phone’s construction.  If you need a repair, you can simply take out the damaged component and easily replace it with another component, much as you would snapping together a LEGO castle. Need an upgrade?  You can purchase one that will work with any phone, again snapping it in. The key is interoperability, the one-time Holy Grail of computers and now the quest of their new cousins, the smart phone.

Popularity and Road Blocks

The PhoneBlok concept relies on cooperation between competing companies, so that any smart phone on the market can use the same parts. When something goes wrong and the device needs a repair, upgrade or some other form of customization, the smart phone owner simply plugs in one of the standard components. Problem solved!

One of the keys to the modular concept is the ability to cut back on electronic waste. No longer will perfectly good cell phones be consigned to the scrap heap. This is important, as the organization Greenpeace has put global e-waste at somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 million tons per year.

The concept has gained some traction thanks to Haaken’s social media activism. A YouTube video regarding PhoneBloks has been viewed more than 12 million times. He has also used social media to rally some 650,000 people for support.

Yes, there are naysayers.  There are some who question whether the companies will put aside their self-interest and the capitalistic benefits of the upgrade culture. There are also some technological considerations about modular phones that may be problematic.

Consumer Benefit

But Hakkens points out the obvious– there is pent-up consumer frustration with the constant cycle of upgrades, the impossibility of repairs, and a massive desire to help cut way-back on e-waste. That’s the starting point for some conversations the inventor already claims he’s having with major smart phone players.

Many people never believed there would be widespread electricity in homes, mass consumer ownership of the automobile, and other modern innovations. So be careful before you count out the PhoneBlok concept. Hakkens may be on to something.

Shop iPhone 4s Case at Urban Armor Gear

There’s another company with a revolutionary approach. Urban Armor Gear has created a cell phone carrying case that’s stylish, sophisticated and ridiculously tough. It’s the perfect carrying case for your iPhone 4– or perhaps, one day, your PhoneBlok.

Tell us what you think!