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.
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.