Phoneblock and Open Architectures

by John


Phonebloks appears to be an amazing device. A sort of lego version of a mobile phone where you are allow to pick and choose the parts that are important to you. Longer battery life? Pick a bigger battery. Better camera? Snap in the bazillion megapixel one.

Another part of Phoneblok’s value prop is that it makes mobile devices less disposable. Rather than having upgrade your entire phone every couple of years just upgrade the parts that are long in the tooth.

But the question is can something like the phoneblok outperform an integrated, proprietary platform like the iPhone. Since Apple controls each part of the iPhone architecture (the hardware and software) it gives Apple the ability to optimize for performance.

For example, inertial scrolling is such an important part of the iPhone experience it’s implemented in the operating system in order to take advantage of hardware acceleration. With a modular architecture needed for Phonebloks you would need two or three separate companies to collaborate to achieve the same results.

I love the idea behind Phonebloks but i believe that the value prop is just not good enough to convert people from buying “disposable” phones. It may sell big with the hacker/maker crowd but I don’t see the market extending beyond that.