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Phonebloks and Motorola Team Up to Save the World From Disposable Gadgets

Posted on Oct 29, 2013

If today’s smartphones are super-powerful computers that cost $700, why do we throw them out every time they break a nail?

Dave Hakkens launched a social movement called Phonebloks by posting a video that, in less than two months, is on its way to 17 million views on YouTube.

Right now all cellphones, and most gadgets, are made by permanently wedding many tiny components into one seamless package. The upside is you get a razor-thin phone capable of incredible performance. The downside is when something goes wrong with one of those components, you’re forced to chuck the whole device. Consumers also have to trade in their gizmos because one or two elements is out of date. Your phone’s processor, for instance, might become too slow, but the RAM and other components are still good.

The idea of Phonebloks is to build a phone you can keep forever, by making it modular, open and compatible with interchangeable components.

The Verge explains how this will work:


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Hakkens envisions the practicalities of building a modular phone as a mix of Etsy and a software app-store. Hardware developers will offer up their wares and buyers will pick and choose the particular specs of their desired phone. Moto’s underpinning the whole thing by developing the first prototype device, and later providing the sweetly titled endos (short for “endoskeletons”) upon which to mount your various components. Those will be joined by the release of Module Developer’s Kits and prizes for the most accomplished designs.

To Hakkens and his community’s credit, they didn’t just rest on their hits, but took the idea to a number of big players. They discovered that Motorola has been secretly working on a similar idea, and so the two outfits have teamed up.

Below you can watch the original Phonebloks video, followed by the collaboration announcement.

—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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