As of this writing, at least 863,790 people believe the concept of a modular, upgradable, personalized smartphone is a good enough idea to invest their support in it. With 28 days left to go, the Phonebloks developers are already at 95% of their crowdfunded revenue goal. As I reported a ways back, while Kickstarter was the first crowdfunding venue to receive wide publicity, there are now many such options for soliciting project startup cash. The Phonebloks team chose Thunderclap. Thunderclap is not actually a crowdfunding source but a 'crowdspeaking' scheme for gathering enthusiasts for your idea. If enough people support your project, Thunderclap will blast out a timed Facebook Post or Tweet from all your supporters, creating a wave of attention... for what it's worth.
Phoneblok's concept is based on the belief that the current throw-away philosophy for electronics devices - cellphones in particular - is wasteful not just in terms of money but in terms of the negative environmental impact (e-waste). Instead of manufacturing a single, integrated phone assembly, Phoneblok has a central signal and power routing backbone that provides interconnect points for discrete modules each of which has a specific function. One module contains Bluetooth, another WiFi, another the main microprocessor, another the GPS, another a camera, and so on. It would be up to the end user (owner) which features to purchase and what degree of sophistication he or she is willing to pay for. Even the LCD display would be selectable (color or B&W, high or low resolution, touch or non-touch, etc.). Block sizes and locations are not even necessarily fixed. For instance if you store most of your data in the cloud (online) rather than locally, you could buy a smaller memory module and leave room for a larger battery (WiFi will consume more power than a memory card). If you take a lot of photos, a larger, more capable camera module could be used while sacrificing Bluetooth and or microprocessor speed. Even the main backbone board that everything attaches to can be large to accommodate the best of everything, or small to make room for only the essentials - maybe even, gasp, just a simple telephone!
Posted October 1, 2013