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Making the Fairphone more easily available in the UK

This post I hope will be useful market-research for the Fairphone team and may help with increasing the reach of the product (in time for Christmas maybe?)

I love showing my Fairphone to my friends and explaining the ethical and personal advantages of it. From my experience that is one thing that most excites the typical would-be-phone purchaser is upgradability and the fact it is cheaper than the lower-spec iPhone 6. However, I believe the one big thing holding people back here in the UK is that the phone is only available on contract (the affordable option) through the Phone Coop or as a very expensive one-off purchase of the Fairphone store.
Why is this a problem?

  1. It is too expensive/risky to buy a phone outright AND they do not want a contract with the Phone Coop a company, as they may not have the package they would like, almost no-one has heard of them and they have poor customer service reviews (unfounded or not)
  2. When I’m showing off this Fairphone, most people already have a working phone/ have recently “upgraded” to a new phone (with a discount) at the end of their contract. By the time their phone breaks - they get an email saying “oh look you can get a shiny new phone AND a tablet on the same package” and all considerations of ethics go totally out of the window!

Within my social circle (middle-class south-of-England), people usually buy their phone on contract from a phone distributor or perhaps their network provider. The dominant phone distributors are Carphone Warehouse, Currys/PC World, and the various phone networks (Vodaphone, Virgin Mobile, Talkmobile, giffgaff, EE, O2, Three, iD, BT mobile).

I attended the pop-up shop in London last year so I know that seeing a physical phone in a shop (and having people talk me into it) is a really powerful factor not only in making people feel confident enough to buy it but also to make people aware of it - just like when Fairtrade products moved from specialist stores to supermarkets across the country. If ethical products are more widely available the good that is achieved is much greater.

The point of this discussion is to address 3 questions:

  1. Would you (writing this post) be more willing to buy a Fairphone if it was available in-store?
  2. Why is it that Fairphone is not available in stores in the UK?
  3. Is there anything that the community can do to make Fairphones more widely available in the UK?

While I agree that it would be nice to have more availability of the fairphone in the UK but you can buy it as a one-off purchase from the co-op store. That is in fact what I did, together with my monthly giffgaff goodybags.

But you are right, not everyone can afford the upfront cost and having some extra providers (maybe even giffgaff) and some physical phone in-store would be great.

From what I’ve heard, the success of in-store Fairphones depends heavily on the outcome of the T-Mobile-Austria-adventure. Austria is used as a lab by Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile Germany) and the result will help them decide if they will introduce the Fairphone 2 to their German market. I guess that other European providers keep a close eye on this “adventure” and will follow the decision of one of Europe’s biggest provider after the trial period (whenever this is).

I’m not up to date about the implications of the single European mobile market (the fall of roaming charges), but wouldn’t that mean that you can have a German phone contract without additional fees in the UK? In any case it won’t be easier now with the infamous Brexit…

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HI there,

I’ve jut posted the below in the forums but I’d be keen to engage with you about this.

I have a couple of ideas, I used to work at Amazon and I think there is a missed opportunity using the tools provided there to drive awareness (or at least make it available on there, with good/correct branding)

I wasn’t aware of the London pop-up, how did you find out about it?

Feel free to switch to PM. Thanks!

JC