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Fair design



So, Aral asked me to explain a little bit about Fair Design and why it matters and why you should care, and to me it would be very, very shocking if you didn't care, and one of the things that's happening right now, and we think it's the new norm, is that these things will become the new normal in the future.

This was just this week; Samsung was being pointed out as having failed to eliminate its violations in labour conditions in its Chinese factories, and this coming from Financial Times and on their on Bloomberg we have some problems with supply chains; Korea, North Korea being considered to be conflict-free source of minerals, so the market as such will make sure that people will actually take these things into consideration, so that's the negative side of things, so if you don't care, this will happen and this is clearly these two news organisations are not left-wing friendly; those are very business focussed news-pieces.

So, on the positive side of things, we think that people do care about fair design, so the best proof point we have is that we crowd-funded Fair Phone, our first production last year, so twenty five thousand people actually paid up front three hundred and twenty five euros for a phone that they had never seen, that was coming from a company that had never done a phone before, by people who had basically never done phone before.

And it's actually not just people. So the bottom part here is a contract that we entered in with KPN two years before, that basically says, for those who don't read Dutch, that they will buy a thousand phones if we ever gonna make them, up to four hundred and fifty euros apiece, provided they meet GCF certification. So, organisations also cared, there's a lot of people in those organisations that care about these things.

So, what is Fair Design. That's a good question, because I didn't even consider it before Aral told me to talk about it. So for us, it's actually many things, but one is a tool for change, it's a tool for political change as well, and all revolves around fairness and fairness is a very, very difficult topic because it's a very abstract concept that will mean different things to many different people that are involved in the creation of those products, so what is fair for somebody working in a mine in Africa is not the same for something that is done in China in a production line, right. Or the user receives his phone, so they will all have very, very different concept of fairness.

So the way I put it into perspective is basically that developing products in context across the entire value chain, and the value chain can be extremely broad, so if you take for example what we're doing, so we're doing products, we are selling phones essentially. That involves a lot of activities, so all the way from material sourcing, so going back all the way to the mine sites, all the way to supporting the end of life of the device, because you have to plan these things ahead. To us, this three-sixty, this full holistic design is what we would consider Fair Design, so you do all these things when you're thinking about your product design always with a good focus on social performance and so ensuring social conditions, all across the activities and also environmental consideration. And, also very important, you enter transparency in all your activities; that's the only way to actually ensure that what you're doing is as fair as possible and then it's always a matter of debate because again, fairness is a very difficult topic.

So this is a view of our phone; some of my colleagues had fun trying to disassemble it and try to break it down into some pieces; they failed in some places. But it's just to illustrate the complexity of the guts of the inside of a phone, so if you look at the actual map, so this is a map of the world which is not very clear, I know, but it basically shows a sub-set of all the supply chains that are happening to actually create one of those.

Now, if you start thinking into context, you're gonna start in places like Africa. This is context. You have to start thinking about this is where the stuff comes from. There are issues there, there are conflicts going on, so they are things that we as product developers or designers can actually do to change their lives. It's actually mind-boggling when you think about it.

So this is also the kind of conditions that we can think about. This is actually a copper cleaning site somewhere in Congo. Now; if you want to get into control over what you're doing, it becomes extremely complicated as well, so we actually set up some closed supply chains for some of the minerals that we have in our phones, so tantalum, which is used in capacitors, and tin which comes from conflict-free sources, but in conflict zones because the economic activity that is brought to these zones by the mining is extremely important to the livelihood of those people, so getting these things all in control is extremely difficult.

And then you move onto other problems that you want to try to tackle, like labour conditions in factories. A lot of people when you do electronics, you go to Taiwan, you meet manufacturers, you agree on everything, and then you never see or hear from them again and your products come back wonderfully assembled, produced and everything; there's lots of problems in those factories, of course, and if you want to be sure that you are fair to everybody, you have to go in there and tackle some of those issues.

Other things that you have to consider when you're doing your design is we create a lot of e-waste. Two billion phones sold every year nowadays, replacement cycle about two years, so that means a lot of phones get wasted, and often it ends up in Africa, in places like this, right. So there are ways of designing the products in such a way that you will alleviate those problems. One of the things we've done in our current device is basically offer spare parts, so people can repair their phones. Not many phone vendors actually offer spare parts so that you can repair stuff, and it just works; people are very happy about it.

We also need to think about completely different considerations which don't have anything to do with environmental, social concerns; security, privacy, which we've been hearing about pretty much since this morning, it's also something that you need to think about. Is it fair for our customers that the NSA could go and look at whatever stuff there is in the phone. I think it's easy to answer, so we have to think about these things also when we design the product.

And then transparency. This is one example that we've done, it was very, very early when we started, basically was to try to illustrate where the money went into creating that phone basically for the first one.

So just to conclude, what has been extremely amazing to me at least, is the fact that people care tremendously. We've seen so many cases of goodwill coming from all kinds of organisations trying to help us to achieve what we're doing; it's been absolutely amazing. These are the kinds of people that have been helping us, including like the big operators, so Telecom and Vodafone have been extremely supportive in lots of ways so it's been really amazing.

And now we're going for a next device, we're working on it and it probably will come out next year, completely different platform; we're tackling different challenges so hopefully we can make more difference.