Irreality webmaster Squink launched a new gadget blog called the Shiny Report. Here’s his critique of the business model of a new “ecologically friendly” cell phone company:
Every now and then, a conceptual design company comes up with a really fantastic idea – and then you read it and realise that somehow, against all odds, they actually missed the mark. One latest example of this is Kaleidoscope, who did exactly this. I will explain why momentarily, but first, let’s take a quick look at their angle.
The LINC phone is an eco-friendly cellphone, which is leased to the user on a yearly basis. Once a year, the distributor of the LINC posts out a brand new LINC phone to the user. In exchange for this, the user is to then somehow (either through mail – eugh, or walk-in LINC stores) return the old LINC model to the distributor. The distributor then sends the phone back to the plant, where it is recycled and it’s components are harvested for use in other units.
The LINC model is designed to “[change] the entire paradigm of the production and consumption model”, and eliminate large amounts of hazardous waste material from the phone industry. The user (read: not owner) of the LINC phone can also log into the LINC website and get a warm fuzzy feeling about how eco-friendly they are.
This in itself is a reasonably good idea. But let’s face it, it’s not the primary reason you’d want a LINC phone. In actual fact, who wants to LEASE a phone from a distributor? Answer: nobody. That said, the phone itself is constructed of modular, environmentally-conscious components. Remove the leasing agreement and you’re left with something that almost constitutes a better idea: an eco-friendly, modular phone.
This is where the ‘obvious good idea’ comes into play.
Your eco-friendly, modular LINC phone can be disassembled and upgraded with new modular components. Take your LINC phone to the nearest LINC retailer, or order LINC components online. As new technologies and standards are introduced, simply upgrade your phone for a nominal fee. And you can still save the environment by handing your old components over to LINC to be re-harvested in exchange for future upgrade-credits (assuming you haven’t sold them on, or given them to a friend).