Many people like to express themselves with their clothes. But outside of supporting particular brands or buying a licensed cellphone cover, it’s pretty difficult for people to use cellphones to express themselves in a similar way.
The London-based developer of OwnFone is out to change that by allowing people to 3D-print the phone itself versus just a cover. The company allows consumers to either design the device using its maker’s FoneBuilder App website and let his company make it for them, or design OwnFones themselves at home using the company’s PrintFone Dev Kit.
Don’t expect a lot of fancy-functionality, though. OwnPhone is a voice-only mobile phone that works on a 2G mobile network; the product has already been available in the U.K. since 2012. U.S. consumers can now buy one for about $100, and can select from a version with word buttons, image buttons, a number keypad, Braille buttons, or a few other configurations. OwnFone will ship in the U.S. in July. Its maker is trying to raise £200,000 (~$308,000) by March 21.
There is likely a market for custom-made cellphones such as OwnFone. One large segment that will likely find it appealing is kids. But there are likely many parents who won’t be willing to shell out $100 on a mobile phone for their children. There are also likely many people who will opt to spend $100 on a low-end smartphone than a nice custom-made phone with limited functionality.