Fairphone lacks visibility and reputation. I’ve only heard about it because I’m working in IT and Telecom. I’d guess word of mouth is the reason most of you got yours. The average person has no chance of ever knowing Fairphone exists.
People buy either what’s fashionable (iPhone/Samsung), or what’s cheap and “good enough”. Fairphone doesn’t excel in neither price nor features, so you really have to want a Fairphone to not rather get something cheaper/better. Fairphone isn’t an obvious choice for people who are not attracted by its “fair trade” credentials, and let’s be honest, most people aren’t…
The market of potential “fair trade + geek” clients is probably covered by now, which would explain those stagnating sales.
Now Fairphone could indeed tap the repairability-conscious people, but those are also usually very feature- and specifications-conscious, and Fairphone isn’t technically up to the task (yet?).
Another market they could tap is privacy-conscious people, but for that Fairphone would need to make some internal adjustments, given they are clearly not privacy-conscious at all right now.
On the other hand, “constant growth” is a stock market fetish, I’ve known many small companies which were happy to be small, and just do their thing in their corner. Fairphone could chose to be and remain a niche player, catering for a very limited (but usually fiercely loyal) customer base. -shrug-
Sure, the things on social media I stumble upon are not representative, but I think another factor is what I’d call a “general negativity”.
Whenever there’s something about Fairphone, there are lots of comments like “but the camera is unsusable/crap”, “I had a FP1, never again”, “what’s the deal about Android 10, we’re at 13 by now”.
And I think this overshadows the positive aspects and other people reading this might think it’s the only truth. I’ve seen several “Ah, so Fairphone isn’t better than the rest?!” comments where I thought “ok, so you did read the article and THIS is your (only) conclusion?”
So what you are saying: in a market of about 500 million peope in Europe (ok, minus the children and the zero-tech people), 500k (sales so far) is saturation for “fair trade + geek”? Which would be 0.1%. I doubt that as a reason alone. And I doubt that the Fairphone target group has to be “geek”.
I hope I remember to later check the original crowdfunding documents where Fairphone assessed the size of their niche. Sure, they could have been wrong, but they were definitely not doing this for just 500k people.
Sure, but that’s something Fairphone can change I think. Competition is fierce, the smartphone market is stagnating as a whole right now, and if they want to gain market share, Fairphone needs to up their game. They clearly can’t just rely on the “ours is fair, theirs isn’t” argument, the proof is in the (lack of) sales.
Besides, bad publicity only hits those who find this forum, which would be (IMHO) a tiny fraction of all the people in need of a new smartphone. It’s just a tiny percentage. A way more damaging thing are articles in widely read websites/magazines, which all go along the lines “nice phone, but!”. Fairphone can’t make bad reviews magically disappear, it can just prevent them, by fixing all those little annoying problems. There always will be dissatisfied customers, all companies have them, but if there isn’t any recurring theme they are just expected background noise.
Short version: This forum is irrelevant, existing problems they will get known anyway.
I’m trying to find a reason. I might be wrong, but there seems to be a fact which is undeniable, sales are apparently stagnating, aren’t they.
Now I’m a consultant. If I were to consult Fairphone, I would tell them to make sure to build up a good reputation by totally fixing the FP4: Everyone loves a struggling newcomer and are willing to pardon him, as long as they see he’s making efforts to improve. Blaming “those nasty naysayers” doesn’t help, it only damages your reputation even more. Nobody likes a crybaby.
My 2 cents worth.
[Edit 2 April 16:42 h: Inaccurate 2022 vs. 2020 comparison corrected]
Fairphone sold 43000 FP3 in its first four months from September to December 2019. (10750 per month)
Fairphone sold 34193 FP4 in its first a little over two months from late October to December 2021. (15197 per month – when counting the period as 2.25 months).
FP4 41% more per month
Then in the first full year (2020), 94985 FP3 and FP3+ (with no previous own device to compete with) = 7915 per month, compared to 103756 FP4 in its first full year (2022, with 11925 FP3 still being sold concurrently) = 8647/9640 per month.
FP4 9.2 % more per month (minimum – under the assumption that not a single FP3 buyer of 2022 would have bought an FP4 had the FP3 not been available anymore from 1 January 2022; likely it’s more realistic that a share of FP3 buyers would have opted for the FP4 then, so anything between 9 and 21%)
That despite the fact that the FP3 started at 450 Euros (not long after the FP3+ was introduced, the price tags of both models permanently dropped) and the FP4 at 580/650 Euros.
FP4 price 29-44% higher (compared to FP3 starting price).
Something I’m curious about is the issue that Fairphone users likely won’t update as often as Samsung/Apple users. The Fairphone 4 has plenty of issues, but not enough issues that most people will consider upgrading to the Fairphone 5 or whatever.
Something to also factor in is that the people buying the Fairphone are the people the least likely to upgrade to another phone. There’s a 5 year warranty too!
Kurt, you’re so totally proving my point without even realizing it.
Look at Urs’ numbers. 9% up comparing the second year of FP4 vs. FP3 in a year that has seen the first war on European soil and the highest inflation since decades with a device that is significantly more expensive than its predecessor and you speculate about saturation…
Edit: changed the number after Urs’ correction but I still think the argument holds, considering according to Smartphones - Absatz weltweit bis 2022 | Statista worldwide smartphone sales in 2022 were around 11% below 2021 when Fairphone upped their total sales by around 30% at the same time.
In 2022, we sold more Fairphones than in any single year in our history: 115,681 of them, to be exact. And while that was 52,000
units short of our goal for the year, we’re proud to have increasedsales 32.4% compared to 2021 in spite of an economic slump and
continuing COVID-19-related supply chain disruption
We entered partnerships with several new operators and sellers throughout Europe, broadening our store presence to more than
3,500 stores across the region. Fairphone’s B2B (business-to-
business) customer segment also grew, and after receiving the Android Enterprise Recommended Certification, we secured anumber of important enterprise deals
Sure. Fairphone are a (relatively) new company, and thus should seduce more and more clients as they gain visibility. I, for instance, wouldn’t had bought a Fairphone in 2020/2021, because I hadn’t heard about them yet. The question is just how many new clients are they likely to gain.
Please note that when I speak about saturation (actually I said “stagnation”), I mean the smartphone market as a whole, including the huge players like iPhone and Samsung, and it’s not me who says so, it’s the industry. I’m just the messenger, don’t shoot…
Also I was replying to @Alain_Guillet, who said something about a “reaching a maximum”. While “maximum” might sound a little severe, I think it is indeed rather unlikely Fairphone might experience in 2023 a 100% growth like they did in 2020. Sales for 23 might go into the 140k, but they might as well drop back to 110-110k. Then again nobody knows…
As you was repeating this several times I had the feeling you think its the same for everyone…
The point is: people live in different “bubbles” and there is not just the “IT Consultant Bubble” so there are various reasons why people and where people hear about it and buy it. I.e. you cant conclude from your situation Fairphone is not visible.