Innovation That Matters

Affordable phones, built to order


Last December, we featured a company that’s applying customization to cellphones. By plugging together different modules and maybe adding a few lines of code, a mobile device from Bug Labs can be customized to suit its owner’s (changing) fancy. zzzPhone is taking a different approach by allowing customers to select their preferred features online and then manufacturing a phone for them within 15 days. (A few options lead to longer delivery times of up to six weeks.) Phones are custom-built and shipped directly to the customer from a factory near Shenzhen, China. Prices start at USD 149 for the basic unit, which is available in a range of colours. Customers can tweak to their hearts’ delight, adding a camera (up to 7 megapixels), GPS, flashlight, stereo speakers, software, a touch screen, upgrading processors and boosting internal memory up to 4 GB. Another nifty feature, and one that most network-bound phones don’t offer, is the option of two SIM card slots, enabling buyers to use two phone numbers or accounts on one phone. The start-up claims to use the same components as major brands like Motorola, Nokia, Palm and Samsung. Mimicking Dell’s mass customization model for personal computers, American-owned zzzPhone could tap into a broad base of tech-craving customers who care more about features and pricing than brand names. zzzPhone has launched an aggressive reseller plan in hopes of quickly expanding sales. Customized phones can also be ordered and manufactured in bulk, which suggests that an entrepreneur could specify features and software designed to serve—say—physicians or stock traders, and resell to a niche market. Plenty of business opportunities here! Spotted by: Bjarke Svendsen



Download PDF