Look at Packaging

By Jim Louderback  |  Posted 2004-10-24 Print this article Print

I can see why you might want different vibration patterns for different callers. Its probably a good thing to know when the babysitter calls during the movie, without illuminating the caller-ID screen. And customized vibration patterns can help you decide whether to take a call—without letting others know that youre being pinged. But something about the whole thing makes me feel dirty. Im not sure I want someone else controlling what is, essentially, a vibrator in my pocket. At least not very many people. And when remote-controlled vibrating phones become popular, will the lubricant-resistant phone be far off? I see a whole new market for the phone-titillation industry—as if they needed yet another technology to corrupt. But apart from the smarmy aspects, Im not bullish on VibeTonz success. But its not the technologys fault. Instead, blame it on how its being packaged and sold.
When VibeTonz looks in the mirror, it sees ring tones. And who wouldnt want a piece of that multibillion-dollar industry? But a string of vibrations isnt as valuable as a string of musical notes. Id pay a dollar to assign the beginning of the B-52s "Planet Claire" to incoming calls from my wacky brother. But its unlikely Id do the same for "Shave and a haircut. Five Cents."
But Immersion, Samsung and the cell phone carriers want to restrict creation of these vibration strings. You can download the VibeTonz development package today and create your own vibrations—but itll cost you $5,000. Phone users wont be able to create their own vibration strings, and thats just wrong. Vibrations are not the same as songs. Making a pulsating phone successful requires enlisting the vast audience of phone users—not restricting authoring to licensees. Click here to read about a California law to increase cell phone recycling. Imagine a world where anyone can create vibration strings and then SMS them to friends. Vibrating phones will most likely be adopted by the 15- to 25-year-old market, whose members are always looking for something new. But without the ability to mix their own tones, the novelty will soon fade. Forget royalties and dollar a download. Every phone should have its own rudimentary authoring system as well as a player. PC- and Mac-based tools should be freely downloadable. Immersion, Samsung and the cell phone carriers need to adopt an open-source model for VibeTonz. Give away the tools and let your users drive the success. Thats the only way to keep "reach out and touch someone" from remaining just an antique slogan for a long-dead brand. Check out eWEEK.coms Mobile & Wireless Center at http://wireless.eweek.com for the latest news, reviews and analysis.

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With more than 20 years experience in consulting, technology, computers and media, Jim Louderback has pioneered many significant new innovations.

While building computer systems for Fortune 100 companies in the '80s, Jim developed innovative client-server computing models, implementing some of the first successful LAN-based client-server systems. He also created a highly successful iterative development methodology uniquely suited to this new systems architecture.

As Lab Director at PC Week, Jim developed and refined the product review as an essential news story. He expanded the lab to California, and created significant competitive advantage for the leading IT weekly.

When he became editor-in-chief of Windows Sources in 1995, he inherited a magazine teetering on the brink of failure. In six short months, he turned the publication into a money-maker, by refocusing it entirely on the new Windows 95. Newsstand sales tripled, and his magazine won industry awards for excellence of design and content.

In 1997, Jim launched TechTV's content, creating and nurturing a highly successful mix of help, product information, news and entertainment. He appeared in numerous segments on the network, and hosted the enormously popular Fresh Gear show for three years.

In 1999, he developed the 'Best of CES' awards program in partnership with CEA, the parent company of the CES trade show. This innovative program, where new products were judged directly on the trade show floor, was a resounding success, and continues today.

In 2000, Jim began developing, a daily, live, 8 hour TechTV news program called TechLive. Called 'the CNBC of Technology,' TechLive delivered a daily day-long dose of market news, product information, technology reporting and CEO interviews. After its highly successful launch in April of 2001, Jim managed the entire organization, along with setting editorial direction for the balance of TechTV.

In the summer or 2002, Jim joined Ziff Davis Media to be Editor-In-Chief and Vice President of Media Properties, including ExtremeTech.com, Microsoft Watch, and the websites for PC Magazine, eWeek and ZDM's gaming publications.


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