Linda Ronstadt’s grandfather, Lloyd Groff Copeman, was a prolific inventor. He had 700 patents to his name. One of the most famous was the rubber ice cube tray. One day in 1928, while walking through some woods, he noticed that slush and ice flaked off his rubber boots easily, rather than adhering to them. He conducted experiments using rubber cups, and later set about designing and then patenting different types of tray: a metal tray with rubber separators, a metal tray with individual rubber cups, and a tray made completely of rubber. Sales from this invention earned him approximately $500,000, equivalent to $10 million today.
The mobile phone, or as the Americans call it a cell phone, is a terrific modern day invention and like all products it has its faults. They go out of date quickly, they don’t like to get wet or the heat or the cold, screens break, internal parts wear at different rates and so on.
Wouldn’t it be great if someone invented a mobile phone that had changeable parts. A modular design with parts that can be independently changed and updated. Well, someone has created that concept and put it up on YouTube. It's called Phonebloks.
It’s full of engineering problems. But if you look at a problem from a business perspective, a problem is an opportunity. If the concept goes against the philosophy of phone manufacturers, they will buy the concept and hide it. Like the oil companies supposedly did with the GM EV1 car, the world's first mass-produced electric car. GM made 800 of them in the late '90s. They ended the EV1 line in 1999, stating that consumers weren't happy with the limited driving range of the car's batteries, making it unprofitable to continue production. Many sceptics, however, believe GM killed the EV1 under pressure from oil companies, who stand to lose the most if high-efficiency vehicles conquer the market. GM hunted down and destroyed every last EV1, ensuring the technology would die out.