Street hacks

Mobile phone repair shop in India

I went to a talk last night by Nokia’s Jan Chipchase on street hacks, the phenomenon of mobile phone repair shops in Ghana, China and India (and many other places) where skilled entrepreneurs can do just about anything with your phone. Dual SIM card? Sure. Broken screen? No problem. Want to change the band on which your phone operates? Of course.

There are many aspects to explore in Chipchase’s work, but the one that intrigued me the most was the global network of innovation that’s behind the phenomenon. The mobile phone repair stall in the market in Accra learns a lot by doing, of course, but it’s also connected to Internet-based information and incredibly sophisticated, rapid response publication.

Reverse engineered repair manual

The above picture of a reverse-engineered repair manual was particularly startling. Apparently, you can subscribe to this, and Chipchase reckons it takes about a week from the launch of a new phone to the appearance of the repair manual. A fantastic innovation story.

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