Blog 4

The World’s First ‘Ethical’ Smartphone…


After reading “World’s first ‘ethical’ smartphone to be unveiled this week- The Economic Times” blog post, I was intrigued by the idea of ‘ethical’ technology. We tend to think about businesses being ethical or people being ethical, but not necessarily a product. The ethics behind the phone are considered a huge step for technology production, because the phone is said to be the first “fair trade” phone, meaning it is the most ethically sourced product available on the current world market. The phone is made by a Dutch company and is said to have no tin or tantalum extracted from conflict areas, meaning extractions are coming from conflict-free mines.

Interestingly enough, the phone sounds to be a possible competitor for the iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy because of its large touch-screen. The post even mentions the issues surrounding Apple and Samsung’s choices to produce their phones in conflict areas with terrible working conditions. This possible competition leads to many questions… Since the retail price of this ‘ethical’ phone is around $350, how is the price so low if production costs are probably high? I assume this because if there are no labor issues, workers must have decent pay, and if metals are being extracted from conflict-free areas, I assume the costs of extraction are higher than conflict areas, otherwise Apple and Samsung would be getting their metals from this same place. Does this ‘ethical’ phone have much of a profit margin?

Furthermore, I am interested to see if the phone will catch on in the US. I don’t want to be pessimistic, but the technology seems to good to be true. It is possible that the phone may sell well in the beginning, but I foresee technical problems with the phone that the company may not have money to fix due to its low profit margins from the production of the phone. I do hope that I am wrong, but I am anxious to check back on the phone in January after it has been available for sale for one month.

10 thoughts on “The World’s First ‘Ethical’ Smartphone…

  1. I also read this article while searching various topics and found it very interesting as well. I like how you mention a product, instead of a company or people, that is finally environmentally friendly. I did my blog about Patagonia and how they too use environmentally friendly material to make their clothing. My question to you is, do you think this may be the new wave of social responsibility? Do you think products will become more environmentally friendly and push away products that are not, or do you think we still have to depend on people to do these socially responsible things because we are the ones who think to make the products?

  2. Rachel,
    I too was intrigued by the idea of an ethical phone and wrote about this blog. One of my concerns was the standards within the chosen production facility within China. I wasn’t sure if they were saying the working conditions were safe based on the country’s standards, or our standards. Also, do you believe that the phone will be able to compete with other smartphones that are available for less that come with major carriers?

    • It’s so funny that we both wrote about this blog! There are so many blogs out there, yet this one seemed particularly interesting to both of us, which shows its significance because we are not used to thinking about products as “ethical”. I felt the same way you do about the vagueness of statements about working conditions, and I wish the author provided more clarity! I think the phone could possibly compete with other smart phones IF the company is able to make profits despite there choices to have higher costs because of being “ethical”. We will see!

  3. As unfortunate as it may sound, I believe that regardless of whether a smartphone is considered “ethical”, consumers will not purchase the device unless it actually works well. I am not saying that all people don’t care about the social responsibility of their favorite electronic manufacturers, but when it comes to a cellphone, people are looking for functionality primarily and I don’t think enough people will be persuaded by the ethical characteristics of this smartphone.

  4. I would have to agree with Don. Regardless of how “ethical” a product may be, I think people will always look for functionality first and to be quite honest price second. I think that this phone being $350 will be a bit too much for people to really buy into unless there is a plan which could bring the cost down. However, this also leads to the issue of profit margins for the company. I think it is a great idea to make an ethical product such as this, I am just unsure as to whether it will gain very much traction. I will be very interested in seeing how it plays out though.

  5. Even if this phone fails because consumers choose better technology over ethical production, at least the company made an effort to act in the best interests of society (if their claims are true). And if this company has been able to work with good labor conditions and conflict free areas with proper resource regulations, their initial efforts could be modeled and perfected by a larger company with more resources. It at least puts the idea in the minds of consumers that technology can and should be made ethically.

  6. After reading your blog post, I had the same reactions as the previous two comments. I agree it is very interesting that a company went out of its way to produce and promote an “ethical product” especially in the smart phone market. Although this is interesting I doubt the product will see much success. I don’t know enough to speak on the phone, but I know it will take a lot of innovative technology to even compete with Apple and Android. I have a hunch that if the product is being promoted as “ethical”, it is trying to cover up the lack technological innovation in the phone. Needless to say it will be interesting to see what happens over the next year.

  7. We have many brands in China that all produce smartphone, and almost have the same functions as iPhone. And their prices are pretty low, less than half of the price of iPhone. (iPhone is clearly overpriced in China, as the tariff…) They all advertise them as environmental friendly products and the lower price is due to low cost of the materials they used. However, most brands have the problem with market targeting. Smartphone as a kind of luxury stuff in China, shows the social status and wealth of people. And people with less money will still think that lower price is high, they would rather choose a non-smartphone. I would like to see how the US market reacts about the phone as well.

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