Fairphone extends distribution network in Europe


Fairphone, a Dutch firm that makes ethical and environmentally friendly smartphones, said Thursday it is extending its distribution network in Europe.

The company started off in 2010 raising awareness about the links between electronics and minerals mined in conflict zones, before deciding in 2013 to make and sell its own smartphones over the internet.

Last year, the company reached agreements with four European telecoms operators to include its phones in their catalogues alongside those of major brands, Fairphone spokesman Fabian Huehne said on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress, the phone industry's largest annual trade show, in Barcelona.

"We recently changed out strategy" in order to reach a wider audience, he added.

Austria's T-Mobile, Germany's 1&1, Switzerland's and Dutch firm KPN (Amsterdam: KPN.AS - news) are the four operators that are now selling its phones.

Fairphone has also reached an agreement with Barcelona city hall which will offer the company's phones to its employees, as well as with two online shopping sites in Italy, said Huehne.

The company has sold 130,000 handsets so far -- 25,000 of them snapped up in a crowd funding exercise before the firm had made a single phone.

Its main markets are Germany and Switzerland.

Mobile phone manufacturers have been faulted by campaigners for using rare metals mined in conflict areas and producing devices in Asian factories with sketchy labour standards.

Fairphone focuses on conflict-free minerals and provides spare parts and simple manuals to allow owners to cut costs and waste by doing their own repairs on devices.

The company posted sales of 15 million euros ($15.8 million) last year.