The Fairphone, the crowdfunded and ethically sourced smartphone, sold out of its initial run of 25,000 pre-orders today.
An exercise in the art of the possible, the Fairphone, which has been produced by the small Dutch social enterprise of the same name, has been created in part to shine a light into the darker recesses of the electronic supply chain.
Assembled in China by workers who are guaranteed a fair wage and working conditions, the raw materials for the Fairphone are sourced where possible from conflict-free mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo that are not controlled by warring parties in the ongoing civil strife in that country. Other parts such as the case are made from recycled materials.
In keeping with the theme of sustainability and openess the phone itself is built to last, with user-replaceable parts, dual SIM cards and a high-end scratch resistant screen. It is also rootable meaning that the user can install the operating system of his or her own choice. The Fairphone website also gives a complete breakdown of all the costs involved in the production of the device.
The project has not been without its difficulties, with problems in the supply chain and delays in the certification process putting back the delivery of the smartphones to December from an initial projected deadline of autumn 2013.
Since people are paying for a device they haven't even seen or held, a large degree of trust is involved, something alluded to by Bas van Abel, founder and CEO of Fairphone.
"25,000 people have put down €325 for a phone they have never seen before, from a company that has never made a phone before. This is quite a statement for fair electronics and that the idea of a fairer economy is incredibly valuable to people. People have made their statement. Now it's up to us," he commented in a statement to Computing.
"With selling 25,000 phones comes great responsibility. There is still much to do to continue to disrupt the system and ensure that with every phone purchased consumers are making a difference and challenging a broken system to deliver fairness to workers along the chain and the environment in which we live," added chief sustainability officer Sean Ansett.