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We’re stopping Fairphone Easy… for now.

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It is with a heavy heart that we have taken the not-so-easy decision to discontinue Fairphone Easy… at the moment, at least. 

Fairphone Easy’s phone-as-a-service subscription model reaffirmed our commitment to a circular economy. When we launched the program in the Netherlands in 2022, the idea was that it would provide a more sustainable alternative to the rather linear market approach of produce-sell-dispose that we see at play today. Unfortunately, due to various reasons, we cannot continue with the service right now. 

Fairphone Easy was a win-win proposition for all involved. For the end-user, they were not only getting a smartphone, but also guaranteed peace of mind when it came to after-sales. Repairs and replacements were built into the overall fee with a free display repair every year and prioritized customer support. We took a cue from the automotive insurance industry, offering better prices with every passing year for existing subscribers, encouraging them to stick with their device. 

As it stands now, the onus of recycling and refurbishing falls on the end-user, something the average user might not feel incentivized enough to do. As a result, many old devices end up gathering dust, adding to the amount of electronic waste in the world, while being of zero use to anyone. Fairphone Easy was the perfect solution for this too. By leasing Fairphones instead of selling them outright, we could ensure these devices came back to us every time, and were properly refurbished and recycled at the end of their lifecycle. In fact, we were incentivized to do so, provided the numbers kept growing. 

Unfortunately, the numbers didn’t.

How Fairphone Easy works

In an ideal world, every device we sell will come back to us for proper refurbishing and recycling.

It was in June 2022 that we launched the Fairphone Easy pilot program in the Netherlands. The idea was to see how well the program did in the relatively small Dutch market, and then scale up to other countries subsequently. Unfortunately, despite glowing reviews from the press and positive feedback from customers, the subscriber count did not grow as quickly as we would have liked. Initially, there were concerns regarding the pricing. Customers were comparing the retail price of the Fairphone 4 with the total cost of ownership through Fairphone Easy. At first glance, it seemed much cheaper to buy than to lease. However, this consideration did not take into account the benefits of leasing, such as not having to worry about replacing their phone or fixing it when something breaks. There was a clear communication gap between potential customers and us, one that we actually tried to fix with better consumer education. And it worked. For a bit. However, subscriptions began to plateau. The main problem, we realized, wasn’t economic. It was behavioral.

After scores of interviews with our customers and a lot of consumer research, we came to the sad realization that people preferred to own their smartphones rather than renting them. People were five times more likely to buy a Fairphone as opposed to renting it. One of the reasons cited was privacy, but for most users, the decision seemed more emotional than anything else. The smartphone is a much more personal device, compared to cycles and household goods. And breaking through that psychological barrier became more daunting with time, especially when we launched the Fairphone 5. While we did have plans to eventually add the Fairphone 5 to our Fairphone Easy bouquet, we couldn’t do it fast enough. And while a majority of our subscribers were willing to wait, we did see a few cancellations pouring in, signalling a proclivity for the latest and greatest.

All of this forced us to relook at the Fairphone Easy program and suspend it for now. We are still a relatively small operation, and given our ambitions, we have to be extremely picky about what we want to prioritize. And when we assessed our game plan keeping that in mind, it didn’t make business sense to keep investing time and money into Fairphone Easy, especially while we are still trying to consolidate our overall position in the market. 

While Fairphone Easy will cease to exist in the Netherlands, it doesn’t mean you cannot opt to lease a Fairphone in other parts of Europe. We will continue working with Everphone in Germany and Commown in France to promote Fairphone as a subscription service. And for everyone else, you can always head to our webshop and check out the refreshed Fairphone 4. With a completely revamped camera experience and an even better price, making the fair choice has never been easier. 

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