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Teaming up with Vodafone

Originally published at: https://www.fairphone.com/en/2019/11/19/teaming-up-with-vodafone/

With every phone we make and sell, with every industry partner that follows our example, with every customer who starts a conversation about what makes their phone fair, we take another step forward in our quest for a fairer electronics industry.

Our first challenge was to prove you can make an ethical phone and survive. Now we’re out to prove to the industry that it’s the best way to thrive. This is our 3rd generation phone. We’ve learned massively through experience, and that’s essential when you’re blazing a trail for which no map exists. We’ve strengthened and professionalized our organization. We’ve built a more stable and scalable company. We focused on further improvement of our product and supply chain, and we’ve worked on expanding our impact and sales.

Now, we’ve teamed up with Vodafone. Having the belief and support of one such a large operator helps us to bring sustainable electronics to the mainstream market. This truly is one of the strongest signals we can send to the industry. We sat down with Leon Boshuizen, who worked on this partnership for the last 10 months, to get some insights into what this means for our mission, our company and Leon personally.

Hi Leon, can you give us the quick elevator pitch, about this milestone?

The strategic partnership between Vodafone and Fairphone goes beyond Vodafone selling the Fairphone 3 in multiple countries. I especially look forward to our knowledge-sharing collaboration, in terms of sustainability, circular economy and industry requirements, among others. As one of the leading operators in the market, Vodafone gives us a bigger platform, the credibility and the scale we need to change the industry together.

What makes Vodafone a good fit for us?

Vodafone made a commitment to becoming a purpose lead company. Driven by senior management within the company, they are looking to halve their environmental impact by 2025. In our months working together on this partnership, it became apparent how serious Vodafone is about their sustainability commitments, so we’re happy to partner with them and contribute to these goals.

If you turn the question around, Fairphone is a good fit for them as well, since we are the recognized experts in sustainable smartphones – Because of the products we offer, but also based on our knowledge in value chain projects and rooted in our long-term efforts to change this industry.

So what does this mean for customers in Europe?

With Vodafone’s enormous reach, we’re really increasing our visibility. Now there are far more shops across multiple countries – the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and Ireland by the end of 2019, to be exact – for anyone interested in the Fairphone 3 to see and test the device. I always say, that seeing is believing.

And what does it mean for Fairphone as a company?

We really stepped our game up, scaling up to work with one of the largest operators in the world. Which means, we matured into a professional organization, meeting the demands of these big operators. This is a great proof point for our mission to create a demand for ethical consumer electronics. Within the week after the Vodafone announcement, we’ve seen a boost in leads and requests from within the industry. So this partnership really is a powerful signal to other players in the industry.

What does it mean for you personally?

Having worked for Vodafone in the past, on a personal level, this partnership makes me really proud as well. It was a long term project and having people who believe in it on both sides really kept the momentum going. There was a lot of conversation and discussion for about 9 months and in the end, it really kicked into hyperspeed. This is more than just a business deal – it’s something that truly matters. Benefiting people and planet. Actually, in my 13 years in this industry, this partnership deal means the most to me.

Thanks for your time, Leon.

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So, now we have another clue, what is keeping Fairphone busy right now!

Another great step towards making a real change. :grin:

Congratulations.

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What does this effectively mean?

Edit: Response below


sort of defused my worries. I’m leaving my post here for completeness, but it looks like this really is a good thing. Congrats to Fairphone.

Old text:

In the best case it means simply, you can now get a (probably sim-locked) Fairphone in combination with a Vodaphone contract - and maybe even an unlocked one in a Vodaphone shop, which increases both visibility and reach of Fairphone, but this has no effect on Fairphones product strategy, development, or independent sales.

In the worst case (considering my previous experiences as a Vodaphone customer) it could mean.

  • Fairphone stops selling phones independently in a couple of months.
  • To get a Fairphone you need to go to a Vodaphone shop and they push a contract on you.
  • You might need to talk to Vodaphone Support if you need support, spareparts or anything for your Fairphone (especially if you got your phone through them). Contacting Vodaphone regarding any issue means countless calls to a callcenter, staying in a waiting loop for on-average 2 hours before being connected to a person lacking both competence and access rights to help you, who’s expertise ends at “did you try to turn it off and back on” and “you could send it in”. If you send it in, you will not hear back from Vodaphone for 6 months, and if you call them you get different and contradicting information why. You might get your phone back if you send a letter through a lawyer, but it will not have been repaired. Every time you call, there is 30% chance your support clerk does random modifications to your contract and signs you up or cancels contract options in the process.
  • The death of any future development.
  • So there will be no Open OS for FP3
  • Nor the promised option to get rid of Google Spyware
  • Instead future versions will be shipped with Vodaphone bloatware
  • That cannot be uninstalled or disabled.
  • There will be no FP4.
  • Or there will be, but now its “Vodaphone FP4” and only fair by brandname.
  • This forum will cease to exist.

It all depends on how “teamed up with vodaphone” is to be interpreted. If it is merely a contract for mutual benefit, then I would consider something close to the best case scenario. If it means Vodaphone effectively bought up the company, then I would fear pretty much the worst case, at least in the long run.

Did you really read the blogpost above?
This does not seem like selling FP to Vodafone at all, it seems just like a means for furthering distribution of the phone.
Anything else would be a complete change of Fairphone policy, which I have no reason to believe in.

Edit:
Vodafone has announced the strategic partnership as well:
:uk:

This partnership with Fairphone aligns with Vodafone’s purpose to improve the lives of 1 billion people while halving its environmental impact by 2025.

This commitment by Vodafone includes halving its carbon footprint and purchasing all electricity from renewable sources by 2025, and Vodafone has committed to reuse, resell or recycle 100% of its network waste and help customers extend the lives of the devices they already own.

:de:

Die Zusammenarbeit mit Fairphone ist ein weiterer Schritt von Vodafone auf dem Weg zum grünen Unternehmen. Denn der Wandel Deutschlands zur Gigabit-Republik kann nur erfolgreich sein, wenn er mit umfassendem Umweltschutz einhergeht. Unter „GIGA Green“ bündelt das Unternehmen seine Maßnahmen zu Nachhaltigkeit und Umweltschutz. So will Vodafone u.a. die Energieeffizienz in Technik und IT weiter steigern, seine Mobilfunk-Stationen mit Solaranlagen ausstatten, seine Fahrzeugflotte schrittweise auf Elektro- und Hybridfahrzeuge umstellen und bis 2022 auf 100% grünen Strom umsteigen. Das Ziel: bis 2022 den CO2-Ausstoß um 92% senken.

And it is reported on Golem as well:

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Thanks, this really eased my worries. I just had my ISP taken over by Vodaphone, had previous bad experiences with Vodaphone in the past, and now this announcement with the slightly unclear statement - just rang all my alarm bells as in “Oh No! Not again!”

Thanks for clearing this up :slight_smile: A strategic cooperation should really be good for everyone, as its not in any way exclusive.

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@corvuscorax Just a FYI, the company is called Vodafone; not Vodaphone. It is a huge British multinational.

I’m a Vodafone and VodafoneZiggo customer (their joint venture with LibertyGlobal in The Netherlands), and I’m happy with this teaming up.

Although the article was a lot of marketing speech, IMO.

The reason I’m happy is pretty obvious: more exposure in stores, means more brand reach. It is a commitment when a company decides to do this with a smaller brand. On top of that, they made environmental commitments. Which, if you look at the size of the company, are going to have a real impact.

TL;DR, it is not an exclusive deal. Vodafone is the first large corporation carrying the Fairphone 3, and the first large corporation in this field to make such commitment.

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And by the way, without much noise yet German Telekom has started to stock the Fairphone 3, too …

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I think the FP3 release was just perfect timing. With the #FFF movement the majority of people now know that green is needed for the future. And they are now able to buy a green and fair phone with their provider of choice. Thats neat.

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I’d like to know in which countries Vodafone will offer the phone. They operate in almost all countries which Fairphone ships to according to the map above, but in some places they have a subsidiary instead of using their own name.

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To my understanding, they will sell it all over Europe:

1 November 2019 - Vodafone and Fairphone today announced a strategic partnership to offer the more ethical, reliable and sustainable Fairphone 3 to Vodafone retail customers in European markets including the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and Ireland by the end of 2019.

From the Vodafone press announcement linked above already.

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Ok! Nice to see the FP3 will appear in stores in Spain, where it has been rather invisible up to now (save for the few places in Catalonia and the Basque Country where the Angels are found).

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Will the FP3 be in the physical stores in germany to take it in the hand and test the look and feel? That will be awesome. :):):slight_smile:

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Btw, Vodafone are also sponsoring LimeNET, which is a ready to deploy 5G/IoT FOSS implementation of LimeSDR. The hardware and firmware of LimeSDR is FOSS.

This has a lot of advantages. It allows for cheaper and more wide 5G deployment, with less dependence on currently expensive, proprietary hardware. SDR also allows (re)using the hardware for different purposes which leads to less waste.

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If the blogpost by FP is correct on this behalf, then yes!

The press announcements by Vodafone are not that clear about this.

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Thanks Leon, great news that a big company such as Vodafone has woken up to the importance of sustainable supply chains but please keep a close watch on Vodafone to make sure they reciprocate Fairphone’s high ethical standards.

Vodafone have a bad reputation, especially in the UK, for aggressively avoiding their taxes. In recent years they seem to have made some effort to improve their reputation but these might well turn out to be clever marketing so please be careful!

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Vodaphone is such a big player! This is a really impressive and important milestone. Congrats, Fairphone!

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I think the challange today is to find a company that actually is paying their taxes.

I would like to know more about what this partnership involves in terms of distribution, like others I have my experiences with Vodafone and moreover I’m concerned with phone being locked down, bloated with default pre-installed apps or sold under some sort of contract with Vodafone. And also if there’d would still exist the possibilty to buy from Fairphone directly.

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Sky Mobile are also doing a deal with Fairphone. Not sure if this has been mentioned on these forums already; when I searched for “sky” I was redirected to “skype”.
https://www.sky.com/shop/mobile/phones/fairphone/

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The list of resellers - including Vodafone and Sky - can be found here:


This list of course is subject to changes and not always up to date. :wink:

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