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Submission + - The Good News About Cell Phone Upgrade Turnover (

retroworks writes: Slashdot has recently covered the bad news about demand for cell phones in poor countries -the effects of conflict metal mining (coltan/tantalum). Today, a Wall Street Journal op-ed cites an opposite effect. Without negating the "resource curse" in economies stuck in mining, professor Daniel Fletcher (UC Berkeley, Blum Center for Development Studies) points out the blessings of tinkerers. "New phones with larger screens and better cameras ... the push for more powerful devices — and manufacturers' willingness to respond to demand— is on track to improve the lives of millions of people living in extreme poverty. ... the latest, greatest smartphones are driving a dramatic decrease in cost and increase in functionality that will benefit people whose total annual income is often less than the cost of a single phone. The reason for this odd coupling between affluent smartphone purchasers and the poor is simple: The enormous capabilities of smartphones are being repurposed and redirected for use in the developing world."

Is it possible to be proud to be an "e-waste exporter?" Or is this simply an excuse to externalize the costs of WEEE recycling, and to ship the wealthy's junk as "toxics along for the ride?" See photos covering both sides of the emerging markets recycling story in new book by Adam Minter, Junkyard Planet, or read an excerpt in Bloomberg BusinessWeek..

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The Good News About Cell Phone Upgrade Turnover

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