The new San Francisco-based startup Framework has launched with the goal of fixing an “incredibly broken” computing process, as the CEO says. To combat this, Framework laptops are an ecosystem of chips that come together into a computer that can continually evolve.
Framework’s founder and one of the original Oculus employees Nirav Patel tells The Verge that he wanted to deal with the big problems in data processing with his new company.
“As a consumer electronics company, your business model effectively depends on constantly emptying tons of hardware and pushing it into channels, into the market and into the hands of consumers, and then dropping it and letting it exist out there,” Patel says. “It encourages waste and inefficiency, and ultimately environmental damage.”
To address this, Patel and his team created their Framework: an ecosystem more than a simple product capable of replacing and upgrading various parts over time to allow customization, easier repair, and of course, the device can be improved with changes in technology.
The Basic Framework comes with a 13.5-inch 2256 × 1504 display, a Full-HD 60 frame per second webcam, a 55Wh battery and a 2.87-pound aluminum chassis. It is powered by 11th generation Intel processors, up to 64 GB of DDR4 memory and 4 TB (or more) of Gen4 NVMe SSD storage.
All of these parts, from battery to memory to storage, can be replaced and changed over time, which is not particularly uncommon for desktops, but which is becoming rarer (or has never existed before) in laptops. But the Framework goes even further, offering the ability to replace even external parts such as ports, the keyboard or even the screen and frames (which are held in place by magnets).
The company will also offer a “DIY” set of parts you choose when you purchase, allowing customers to build their own laptops at home and install either Windows 10 Home, 10 Pro or Linux. Of course, all of these parts are replaceable and upgradeable at any time.
Framework will support these interchangeable parts via its own marketplace which it will launch which will serve as a hub for buying and selling parts. This marketplace will serve as a centralized point for consumers, but will be open to third-party sellers and retailers. Framework hopes that those who can destroy a component or just want to replace it with something else know that it is easy to find what they are looking for in the Framework market instead of having to search the internet for the best options.
The concept sounds good, but that The Verge points out: it has been done before, and failed. Intel tried modular computers and failed, Compute Card’s Ghost Canyon NUC has not been able to keep up with new parts, and Alienware’s Area-51m did not get the future-proof parts it was promised. Framework success will only depend on the ability to keep up with the promise of parts that customers will actually upgrade to, and it is unlikely that it is enough to trust third-party manufacturers to do so in the first place.
Patel believes that companies that have failed in this concept in the past did so because they were not dedicated to it, and since this is Framework’s entire business strategy, the result will be different.
Framework will begin pre-ordering this spring and expects shipping to begin in the summer. So far, no prices have been announced, but Patel says The Verge to expect it to be “comparable to other well-reviewed notebooks.”
(via the edges)