Automobiles come from Germany, cheese and wine from France, furniture from Sweden - and smartphones from China or South Korea! That's just the way the world is... Or so it seems. But not if a startup called SHIFT GmbH in northern Germany has anything to do with it. SHIFT has its sights set on re-stacking the decks of global manufacturing, at least when it comes to smartphones. One of the aces up the two founding brothers’ sleeves is to do things very differently from the established key players. For example, by proving that manufacturing premium, state-of-the-art technology does not have to run roughshod over principles of fairness and sustainability. And to avoid standing with its back to the wall economically from day one as a result, the company is also promoting a clear SHIFT in emphasis. A small, family-run business without outside investors, the aim is to do as much good and cause as little fall-out as possible. To achieve this, the brothers are forgoing personal profit and limiting the advertising and marketing budget to not even one thousandth of their available funds. In contrast, they are channeling more than 70 percent into development, creating tools, production costs, transportation and customs duties.
Despite its restricted room for maneuver, SHIFT is getting an awful lot done. No sooner has the current SHIFT6m proved that the company is truly capable of developing competitive technology and bringing it to market, than the next big milestone is in sight. The SHIFTmu, which the startup unveiled at its summer party, is being heralded as the first genuinely universal all-in-one device in computing history - amply equipped with powerful, high-performance modules including the latest-generation Qualcomm processor. Echoing the virtues of the SHIFT6m, the SHIFTmu will be constructed in a way that enables its users to exchange, adapt and even repair its key components themselves. In a huge leap forward from its predecessor, however, the SHIFTmu will be expandable to form a fully functional computer. This is achieved by simply marrying the smartphone with a hub that will meet all the latest configuration requirements with ports for a monitor and keyboard, its own power supply and a USB-C interface. With an eye firmly on sustainability, the hub’s modular design is aimed at ensuring it can be adapted to evolving parameters for maximum and flexible usage. However, as most of the devices are likely to be used purely as smartphones to start with, the plan is to supply the SHIFTmu with the latest version of Android onboard. Nonetheless, the developers are intent on also providing a high-performance platform for a reliable and functional Windows system. To this end, they are even incorporating an open bootloader to ensure that users can also readily install their operating system of choice down the line. The only remaining question seems to be how long customers will have to wait to get their hands on this desirable mini allrounder. It’s a fact that the principles of innovative advances, durability, minimizing electronic refuse and wastage and fair manufacturing to which SHIFT is so keenly committed all require proper development, which also takes time. While the SHIFTmu might just make it onto the market before 2019 is out, the company says 2020 is more realistic.
SHIFT GmbH (34590 Wabern, Germany)