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Disposable Cell Phones Arrive 434

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the junking-one's-conversations dept.
headGasket writes "After the disposable cameras, here comes the disposable cell phones. Ideal for trash talk. Seriously, there is a $5 incentive to not dispose of it in the trash and bring it back for a rebate on the next one." These seem like a nice alternative to being locked into a lengthy contract, or for people who only need a cell phone for a short period of time.
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Disposable Cell Phones Arrive

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  • Reception (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I would imagine with disposable-grade aerial setups you would get weak reception? If I have to jump into an 80's time warp to get equal reception i'm out :)
  • Wop Hoo! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 09, 2003 @06:35AM (#7427942)
    Finally, a cell phone that works with my tin-foil hat!

    FP?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 09, 2003 @06:35AM (#7427943)
    It would make parking a lot easier if I could just drive my car into a dumpster.
    And how about clothes that last for 1 day so we can keep up with the latest trends.
    Or pets that die after a week, for when you want some love around Christmas but don't want an 8-20 year commitment.
    • by rizawbone (577492) <slashdot@@@sleepdep...org> on Sunday November 09, 2003 @06:55AM (#7427998) Homepage
      Or pets that die after a week...

      Looks like you've never had a goldfish.

    • All we know about human behaviour, and I mean the non-rational part of us, the part which has sentiments and some morality and/or some sense of ownership or territorial defence, well this part is the one that makes us cling to everything we own, makes us attached to that old pair of shoes, makes us feel affection for that old beige box on the desktop.

      That's why we'll see more customization kits, swappable cases and GUI skins for portable phones, and disposable phones will probably fail.
    • It would make parking a lot easier if I could just drive my car into a dumpster.

      You could just drive into the Bronx, like people do today, for the same effect.

      And how about clothes that last for 1 day so we can keep up with the latest trends.

      Your clothes will only last a day or so, too, in the Bronx, if you stand still long enough ... say, 45 seconds. This is why pedestrians don't stop at crosswalks if they can help it.

      Or pets that die after a week, for when you want some love around Christmas but don't want an 8-20 year commitment.

      Just get married ... it won't last more than 2 years anyway. I'm hearing the term "starter marriage" nowadays, kind of like a "starter home" except with more practicality and less morality.
  • by Freaek (11909)
    get that global communications network up & running, these things would be great.

    Going on holiday to BumFuckEgypt? No worries, buy a phone there. What, didn't use all your credit? Sweet, bring it on home and finish it there.

    Ooooh, this will be great for Shane Warne, he can SMS chicks without getting found out now :)
  • Great for tourists (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 09, 2003 @06:40AM (#7427953)
    This is great for tourists. The USA use 1900MHz for their GSM networks, so the dualband (900MHz and 1800MHz) GSM phones which are common in Europe are of no use to tourists. A disposable cell phone looks like a good way to stay in touch with home and fellow travellers.
    • by GodEater (7709) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @07:29AM (#7428076) Homepage

      Most phones on sale in Europe this days are now tri-band - so they support 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz. I've personally been able to use my last three phones in both Europe and the USA without any problems...

    • Excellent post, I will second that.

      A low-tech alternative to throw-away phones is to simply buy a pre-paid SIM card from a local operator early in your trip, and to use that to make local calls & stay in touch with the family.

      I was in India last week and the network coverage of all major operators was excellent in towns and around urban/touristic areas. The SIM card only cost me Rs.300/- ($6) and included 30 minutes of talk time to Indian phone numbers, and allowed my friends and relatives to call t

    • ... hotel phone, airport phone, trainstation phone, coin phone, or even phone shope allowing conenction all over th worled ? You might not be able to phone from grand-canyon but for a few use in a decenny it is probably cheaper.
    • Yes, but their Web site refers to a Feb 24 episode of CSI:Miami! So these people have been around since at least the beginning of 2003? And /. has only just reported on them?

      What the fsck are these idiots doing for marketing?

      I was in the USA with my family for 2 weeks in the summer -- phoneless except for my own tri-band. Why weren't there great piles of these phones heaped up for sale at Logan, JFK, BWI, and Dulles? And in every dime store, corner convenience, and drug store from Mt Cadillac to Baja Cali

      • by Robotech_Master (14247) * on Sunday November 09, 2003 @01:22PM (#7429180) Homepage Journal
        So these people have been around since at least the beginning of 2003? And /. has only just reported on them?

        I suppose this is the inverse of one of those "repeat story!" posts--a story that's been covered on Slashdot at least twice already and nobody remembers. There's this 1999 story [slashdot.org] on the patent being issued, and then this one from 2002 [slashdot.org] about reviewers discovering sample Hop-On disposable phones actually had the guts of a more expensive Nokia model in them because they hadn't actually tooled up their assembly lines yet.

        So yes, they have been around a while...and yes, Slashdot's covered it.
  • by k98sven (324383) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @06:42AM (#7427956) Journal
    These seem like a nice alternative to being locked into a lengthy contract, or for people who only need a cell phone for a short period of time.

    I'd say it sounds quite wasteful, even if the phone is recyclable.. (how many will recycle it?)

    There are alternatives to lengthy contracts, such as prepaid accounts.

    And there are alternatives for people who need a phone for a short period: Renting.

    I'll just chalk this all down as another symptom that some people can't get the idea that waste is BAD.
    • >> (how many will recycle it?)

      If Hop-on takes them to be recycled, then most will. After all, anyone that uses these more than once will be wanting the $5 off.

    • I'd say it sounds quite wasteful, even if the phone is recyclable.. (how many will recycle it?)

      I've noticed that in Oregon (where I lived last), where there's a mandatory 5 cent deposit per soda bottle or can, people are much more conscientious about returning them than here in Texas, where there is no deposit, stores won't pay you for them, and you have to go find a "can bank" or something to get paid 16 cents a pound, or whatever they give these days.

      Now apply that with cell phones. Right now, someti

      • Although I agree with the comment I think that it may not fit the case. Would someone that lives and stays in an area want one of these? I think that the most common customer will be the tourist/business trip. As this is a US thing (note 911 button for example and I doubt that it is on the ROW bands) there will be nowhere for the buyer to get a refund when they return. I think they will just end up in rubbish bin in Europe and Asia.
    • The point is that they are not supposed to get tossed in the trash, but calling them "disposable" suggests that they will be.

      Why not call them "returnable cell phones" or "temporary cell phones"?
    • There are alternatives to lengthy contracts, such as prepaid accounts.

      And there are alternatives for people who need a phone for a short period: Renting.

      But what about those of us who need untraceable throw-away phones for conducting our illegal terrorist activities? Before we had to rely on cloned cell phones, but with this new technology we may step up to legitimacy!

      - yes, joking, not a terrorist, honest, don't even know how to fly.

    • You are so correct. Waste, although convenient at times, is bad. I hate how society seems to care less and less everyday about the future state of the world. Everything is limited. Landfills will be tomorrow's (un)natural resources similar to the coal mines, oil and natural gas reserves, etc we rely on today. Mining these will be where some companies will make a lot of money down the road.

      Hey, so many seem to wonder why they should care. After all, they won't have to suffer through it. Well, because
    • There are alternatives to lengthy contracts, such as prepaid accounts.

      I believe that the prepaid options now available (in the US) all have the same fatal flaw: the minutes expire... use it or lose it!

      If I could buy a prepaid phone and stretch the minutes out over months, I would do it in a second. But as far as I know this is not possible.

      Someone please correct me if I am wrong about minutes expiring on every carrier's prepaid plan...
  • by BriSTO(V)L (668928) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @06:42AM (#7427960) Journal
    This is how to make money today: 1. Think of current newish technology that is expensive but cool. 2. Figure that in 5 years it'll be cheap. 3. Take out patents on the *disposable* use of said tech. 4. Wait 5 years for someone elso to make it cheap. 5. Profit 6. Have fun This is probably a reasonably viable business plan - my tongue is only partly in my cheek...
  • Oops! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Shonufftheshogun (620824) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @06:44AM (#7427963)
    I could see the 911 button being a nightmare for the 911 call center; it's centered right between the "send" and the "end" button.
    • Re:Oops! (Score:3, Informative)

      by digitalunity (19107)
      Actually, that's a good place to put the button. The fact that it is labeled as such will mean that most people will intentionally avoid that button. One of the ways they can 'recycle' this phone is by giving them to prostitutes. No, this isn't a troll.

      Almost all major metropolitan cities in America have a program where unneeded cell phones are given to prostitutes to use in emergencies. Federal law says that all cellular phones have the ability to make an emergency call to 911 regardless of account status
      • They made '911' so it was an easy to remember, easy to dial number, yet still a bit difficult to misdial. Now they want to assign a single button to it? So someone's in the back seat of their car making out, a stray [insert appendage here] hits the '911' button, and hilarity ensues:

        *beep* <- 911 was just pressed
        Operator: "911 emergency, how can I assist you?"
        Caller: "*muffle* *muffle* mmmph *muffle*"
        Operator: "Sir...er..or madam, are you in trouble? Where can we locate you?"
        Caller: "*shuffle* *m

    • It IS a pain! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by p51d007 (656414) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @10:18AM (#7428421)
      Trust me, putting the 911 button like that IS a pain for 911 operators. I am one. If people would THINK before dialing 911, we wouldn't be so busy answering stupid calls. Over 40% of the calls we take are cell calls, and I'd guess that 75% of those are wasted calls. We at the 911 call center know when there is a wreck. All the phone lines start lighting up. I've even had a 911 call reporting a wreck 20 minutes after the fact. I asked the caller, isn't the police there? She said yes, but I didn't know if you knew about it. HELLO.......McFly......I'm the one who TELLS the fire/police where to go. 911 is a victim of it's own success. For 20 years, we've told people call 911 call 911. Heck, they call 911 like it was 411 now.
  • Is it just me... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Amiga Lover (708890) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @06:44AM (#7427964)
    ...or does that phone look a shitload better designed than most of the current overgadgety, tacky, moronic-buttoned phones that saturate the market? I swear there's a special kind of drug you must need to be on to design current phones.

    (barring the T610, which is simple and gorgeous for it)
    • No, that thing looks about as tacky as tacky gets.

      I, quite honestly, would not be caught dead using one of those things. They may be disposeable, but at least make them look decent (and not like fisher-price toys! Look, it's My First Cellphone!)
      • by sydb (176695)
        I think it would have been OK if the logo did not look like a child's cartoon. Change that to a small, modern logo and stick it discretely to the top left of the phone. Get rid of the blue and the stupid "disposable CELL PHONE" and you have something almost ipod-ish. The keypad is fairly nicely laid out.
    • I've been pretty happy with my Sanyo SCP-4700 [marquel.com]. It's a little smaller than I'd prefer, but it's decent.

      I'm not a fan of the gadgety bullshit phones, so I specifically looked for one that was very basic. No "flip out" action, no color screen, no cameras. It's a good phone. Just a tad small. Although I freely admit to being a fan of large, heavy phones; I still want one of the classic Motorola "Brick" phones.
  • Disposable Items (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 09, 2003 @06:45AM (#7427966)
    Does anyone else find this crass? It looks like the trend towards low-cost, disposable, devices for mass consumption is not going to let up anytime soon. What ever happened to the care for quality, workmanship, and longevity in products? I guess it's as they say, "they don't make 'em like they used to."
  • 911? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by clfrd (545421) <jsearles AT satx DOT rr DOT com> on Sunday November 09, 2003 @06:45AM (#7427968) Journal
    I see lots of accidental 911 calls in the future.

    I don't really see the point of having a huge button for dialing 911.. it's really not that hard to dial, is it?

    The website doesn't say, but I'd also be interested to know if dialing 911 is still allowed after your minutes have expired.

    • Re:911? (Score:5, Informative)

      by gibbonboy (162143) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @07:52AM (#7428137)
      While it is law (in the US, anyway) that all cell phones, even un-initialized handsets, must be able to access 911, these unidentifiable phones are a burden on the emergency system. Several localities have given them to the elderly and battered women, and I believe AAA will sell you a phone cheap, the only button on the phone is a big, round, "911" button. People don't realize that with Phase I and II wireless around the corner, these throw-away phones could represent a false sense of security. The wireless carriers have fought tooth and nail to avoid installing Phase II equipment, even though the per-chip cost for gps units is now under 4 dollars. At present, less than 50 911 centers in the US can handle a Phase II wireless call, more can do Phase I, which is just having a callback number. And the stupid (and I mean stupid) 911 button on these phones will mean swamping 911 centers with "butt-dialling" 911 calls, because I don't see a "keylock" button anywhere.
    • Any cell phone network is required to accept calls to 911 even if the phone no longer has paid service. The cell will detect the call going through and immediately route it without requiring any sort of plan, etc.
  • Is it legit? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Akai (11434) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @06:47AM (#7427974) Homepage Journal
    Remember that Hop-On has been caught [slashdot.org] in the past passing of repackaged Nokia phones as their "disposable" solutions.

    I believe it when I see it at my local 7-11.....
    • Hop-Off (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 09, 2003 @08:08AM (#7428164)

      It sounds like the only thing disposable is the company.

      According to stockpatrol [stockpatrol.com], the former CEO was arrested for defrauding investors.

      Their 2002 Audited Financials [hop-on.com], shows over 98 MILLION shares and lifetime sales of just $4,283 (at an expense of $29,576). The company has moved from online gambling (1998-2000), to DSL provider (2000), to wireless phones(2001-). The audit claims: "[...] the Company has sustained operating losses and expects such losses to continue to the forseeable future. The Company has not generated any significant revenues or product sales [...]". It also mentions that the company currently has two lawsuits against it for unpaid fees.

  • Pay phones (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mr100percent (57156) * on Sunday November 09, 2003 @06:48AM (#7427980) Homepage Journal
    Now, I thought that the reason Pay Phones in the US can no longer receive incoming calls is because drug dealers were using them to do business.

    Wouldn't this just do the same? I can see this as a boon for an illicit dealer.

    • Re:Pay phones (Score:5, Interesting)

      by muffen (321442) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @07:29AM (#7428073)
      I can see this as a boon for an illicit dealer.

      There was the same fear here in europe when the prepaid mobile phonecards came into use. As it turns out, they are able to track people even if they use prepaid mobile phones.
      Therefore, I don't think it'll be that bad.

      Actually, I think these things may give people a false sence of security, and it may well turn out to work against the criminals, not for them.
      • They're disposable. You pick up a new one every day and the cops have to keep tracking new numbers. The more dealers that do this, the more work the cops have to do and the more work the cops have to do means less likelyhood of criminals being caught.
        • You pick up a new one every day and the cops have to keep tracking new numbers.

          That's no how tracking works - they triangulate your position using the relative signal strengths in the cells surrounding you. They can get you within a few feet - some companies are now selling this technology to parents to keep track of children... it's that reliable.

          They can pick up the phone based on the number you dial or even key phrases said during the conversation (echelon) - the number of the phone itself is pretty
      • European network operators require you to register before you can start placing calls with prepaid cards. I doubt that something similar could be done with disposable phones.
  • by nickovs (115935) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @06:49AM (#7427981)
    I wonder how long it will be before one is obliged to produce ID in order to buy one of these things. Many law enforcement agencies object to cell phones that are not tied to an identifiable individual because it makes it much harder to get an order for tapping the phone.
    • Pay phones still exist. And you aren't asked to produce an ID to buy a "real" cellphone, either. If I'm a drug dealer or terrorist, I have no problem at all with spending a $120 in cash every other month to buy a barebones cell phone and prepay a plan---and I'll buy a new phone every week during the month or two before a big "event." The fact I can do it for $40 every other month now makes little difference to my trade.
  • what's the point? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by snarkh (118018) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @06:49AM (#7427982)
    No contract cell service has been available for a long time now, at least in some places. You just buy minutes as needed without any monthly payment. The only investment you make is the phone itself.

    The disposable phone seems expensive (per minute) and mostly useless. The only real application I see is when you go somewhere for a short period of time and need a phone for a few weeks.

  • by Space cowboy (13680) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @06:49AM (#7427983) Journal
    I wonder what the quality control will be like on a product that's designed to be thrown away. There's been several studies detailing local microwave heating in the brain (though no-one's sure if this is a serious thing, I sort of side with the cautious on this one. What if ? ...)

    Simon.
  • by iamhassi (659463) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @06:52AM (#7427992) Journal
    Disposable Cell Phones have been on slashdot [slashdot.org] many [slashdot.org] times before [slashdot.org], and isn't Hop-On the same company cited for repackaging $200 Nokia's and calling them "Hop-On" phones [geek.com] 18 months ago? I still haven't seen Hop-On phones in retail stores years after they were first announced, and I have a feeling I won't see them for many more years. Might as well start advertising disposable computers too, since I'm sure we'll see those in the next 10 years... probably before the disposable cellphone.
  • by rock_climbing_guy (630276) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @07:00AM (#7428010) Journal
    Now, I can make all my phone sex calls without worrying about my parents seeing the paper trail. w00t!!!
  • by haggar (72771) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @07:02AM (#7428019) Homepage Journal
    I have worked and lived in several countries in Eueope, and everywhere, recycling and safe storage of old batteries was top issue. Batteries are VERY toxic.

    And now, an idea to just throw away your mobile phone? Don't these people think about the environment? Yeah, I know, there's a 5$ incentive to return them, but you know as I know, that the average northamerican user of such device will think of the return as a nuisance and will gladly renounce to the 5$ and toss the phone. Even if only 10% does this, you still end up with huge quantities of toxic materials in the environment.

    I'd like to kick the ass of the guy who launched this product.
    • I can think of one way to make this business successfull:
      As one previous poster mentioned, the frequencies used in Europe with GSM are different from those in use in the US. So why not sell the disposable phones to the tourists so they can still phone, and have the phones double as SOUVENIRS ? It'll take some work on the design to make them collectibles, of course.
    • by ponxx (193567) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @08:19AM (#7428188)
      > I have worked and lived in several countries in Eueope, and everywhere, recycling and safe
      > storage of old batteries was top issue. Batteries are VERY toxic.

      You've obviously not spent much time in the UK, but I agree with regards to most other european countries...

      It's not only batteries, but also paper, plastic, glass, metal ... in many areas of germany for example each household has 3 or 4 different bins that get collected on different days/weeks.

      When I arrived in america for the first time, I bought a (glass) bottle of water at the airport, and once i had drunk it returned it to the place that had sold it to me (cafe type thing) assuming they would recycle it in some way. The woman just gave me a very strange look and dropped the bottle in the bin right in front of me...

      I have no idea of the actual environmental impact of recycling as compared to driving, air conditioning, heating insulation, toxic waste, lack of filters in power plants etc. etc. but there certainly seems to be a very different mindset about it in western europe.

      ponxx

    • I have worked and lived in several countries in Eueope, and everywhere, recycling and safe storage of old batteries was top issue. Batteries are VERY toxic.


      Well, since most vendors switched from nicad rechargeable batteries to nimh it isn't such an issue anymore.
      Second, even modern alkaline batteries don't contain mercury anymore.
      And if you want to get rid of old batteries you can drop them at most shops.
      don't forget that recycling is a big market in Europe.
      There is a lot of money in recycling.
  • by Colm Buckley (589428) <colm@tuatha.org> on Sunday November 09, 2003 @07:04AM (#7428023) Homepage

    Making the entire phone disposable seems to me to be rather wasteful and, well, environmentally-unfriendly. The requirement which this phone purports to address seems to me to be already catered-for by the "pay as you go" model.

    Here (Ireland), for example, you can get a decent phone (with no account) for about 100 euro, and then buy call-cards for 10, 20, 50 euro etc. worth of credit. These have a PIN which you use to top-up your account. As an alternative to the "pay monthly" type of account with invoices, it works very well; they're used particularly by teenagers etc. There's no account, nor are one's personal details given to the phone operators.

  • Prepaid SIM cards (Score:5, Informative)

    by haggar (72771) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @07:09AM (#7428042) Homepage Journal
    Why not just use prepaid SIM cards? That's what we have here in Finland. You get a prepaid SIM card and presto, you get to talk or receive calls. Once the allocated talktime has been exceeded, you just buy a code and "recharge" the prepaid SIM card. Or just buy a new prepaid SIM. SIM cards are small and made of non-toxic material. A much better idea for the environment, and I'd say it's much nicer, as you have YOUR choice of mobile phone.
    • That's a good idea as long as your phone supports that... I return from my Taipei/Hongkong trip last month (I am in New Zealand, btw)... I just bought a prepaid SIM at each place with zero hassle...

      However, all the places use GSM900MHz... Many phones can do dual bands; not many phones support triple band, which is necessary in US. It is the big problem for infrequent travellers.

  • 911 button (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SashaM (520334) <msashaNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday November 09, 2003 @07:16AM (#7428056) Homepage
    I wonder how many non-intentional (I'd use the word accidental, but it seems inappropriate) 911 calls are going to be made with that design. It's like those stupid computer cases with the reset button sticking out from the front which you keep bumping against accidentally.
  • If you'd consider a phone that's less than $10 as "disposable" than it already exists. It's the Nokia 5160 or 5165. Quick search of ended items on ebay [ebay.com] turns up hundreds of Nokia 5160/5165 phones that have sold in the past 2 weeks, most for less than $10, some as low as $1 [ebay.com].
  • A boon for organised crime. Now every terrorist can be absolutely sure they cannot be traced.
  • by muffen (321442) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @07:24AM (#7428066)
    ...on Slashdot [slashdot.org]

    It's actually kinda amusing reading the comments from that last article about disposable cellphones. Many people though it'd never happen, and now, here it is :)
  • Well this is a nice alternative to having to take my mobile with my when travelling. Just walk into an airport, send a text messages to people who need to know and just walk around. If it gets stolen, no big deal.

    Of course you would have t owrite down all your numbers in an addressbook but is that such a big deal?

    Rus
  • by shri (17709) <shriramcNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday November 09, 2003 @07:29AM (#7428075) Homepage
    On my last trip over (March '03), I was suprised that the concept of a rechargable SIM had not caught on in the US. I tried hard to find them in both Seattle and San Francisco but could not..

    With the current political climate and the perception that such a phone would only be used by terrorists and drug dealers, I find it hard to belive it would catch on or would be allowed to work.
  • Sucky! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NaveWeiss (567082)
    It's only possible because you get charged for incoming calls - a thing that happens only in the USA. All around the rest of the world, if someone had a phone like that she would never dump it, because it could be served as another phone number (another identity!)

    And.. it's hard to believe they'll continue to live. It all looks like a fraud to me. Their site design looks quick-n-dirty, kinda like the site of Earth Station 5 [slashdot.org].
  • http://www.hop-on.com/technology.html [hop-on.com]

    "Hop-on has secured multiple disposable-cell-phone patents from the STX patent collection. These patents have an effective filing date back to December 1995, which we believe predates all other patents directed to disposable cell phone technology. These patents include very broad claims directed to a method of operating a disposable cell phone with pre-programmed minutes.The patents further strengthen our competitive advantage, barring entry into the market by other c
  • At least with cameras there is an incentive to bring them back -- you need to get your pictures developed! Sure, there's that $5. I doubt that's enough for most people.

    Even if they did, how many people are going to get one in the first place? You can pickup old mobile phones now for next to nothing.

    I'm in the UK tho, it might be difference over in the US. Anyone over there considering getting one? For what reason?
  • by beeblebrox87 (234597) <slashdot@a l e x a n d e r.co.tz> on Sunday November 09, 2003 @08:06AM (#7428160)
    Clearly, if you use a phone often or for a long period of time, it's cheaper to go out and buy a real phone than to continue buying replacement disposable ones. The main market, therefore, seems to be travelers etc. who will only be in an area for a short while. I'm sorry, but why can't such people just buy another simcard for their existing phone? (As opposed to this crappy disposable one, which apparently can't even send text messages. What the heck is the point of a phone that can't send text messages?) Simcards cost about $6 in most countries, much cheaper than one of these things, and you get the benefit of still being able to use your own phone.
    • > What the heck is the point of a phone that can't
      > send text messages?

      Perhaps people like me could use it. I've never sent a text message from my phone, and I suspect it'll be years before I start doing that. Don't assume everyone has the same needs you do.
  • To all that say "Use it until it expires, then keep it for 911" or "Get one just to kick around in an emergency kit" are forgetting about BATTERY LIFE.

    Does anyone really think you can recharge these things? Or that they have awesome shelf life? There's probably enough juice to get you through the minutes about twice (for safety) then you have to bring it in to replace the battery pack anyway.

    Just a thought.
  • Good idea (Score:2, Interesting)

    by loserone (654581)
    Actually, I really can see a use for these - When i go out into town, i dont want my new nokia stolen, so i take an old housebrick-sized phone. It gives me a point of contact, with very little risk - who would want to steal it? I was actually stopped (at knife point) and mugged a few months ago - he took a 20pound note, but not my phone, (or even my student card or driving licence. It's well worth asking to keep it - worthless to the theif + would cost a lot to replace) as for dialing emergency sevices,
  • by bruthasj (175228) <bruthasj@yah[ ]com ['oo.' in gap]> on Sunday November 09, 2003 @08:33AM (#7428216) Homepage Journal
    Just sell temporary SIM cards at 7-11 and let people figure out how to get a used cell phone for $20 bucks. That's how we do it in Taiwan. Locking into contracts for two years is for weenies. Who cares about changing your phone number every two months!
  • One more person on the bus, shouting "Hi, yeah, I'm on the bus..." into his phone just might do it. An incentive to not dispose of them in the trash might be nice, but it probably needs to be more than $5.

    I guess these phones are a good idea "for people who only need a cell phone for a short period of time". If I dispose of them and return the phone, can I get the $5?

    Of course with my luck, I'll go to Hell for it and then .. "Hi! Yeah, I'm in Hell.." for eternity. Nooooo!

    • Don't worry, the "hey, I'm on the bus!" phase will end as soon as everyone in the States gets over the newness of cheap, popularly available cell phones. One day it will be the equivalent of bragging to people about having a color television.

      Of course, judging from my experience in Japan, the people around cell phone users are half the problem. I've seen people give dirty looks at people talking on the cell phone in a regular voice on the train, even though there are people having much louder face-to-fa
  • by ljavelin (41345) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @08:45AM (#7428234)
    North American cell phone customers were happily surprised this morning when Merison Vireless released a cell phone so shoddy and crappy that most would be happy to dispose of it.

    "I've been waiting for the shittiest cell phone I could," remarked Janice McFarley of Prescott Hills "the phone Merison sold me wasn't that great, but I was planning to keep the unit even though I could no longer afford the service. With this phone, well, it simply has no value! I'd throw it away without a second thought!".

    The new "KrapPhone", with a limited feature set and shoddy quality, is perfect for service providers that are looking to milk customers that have very little money. Robert Slaton of Merison Vireless explained to us that they could make a tidy profit on welfare mothers and the homeless.

    "We find that welfare mothers would like a cell phone, but they can't afford the $30 monthly fees. With this totally crappy phone, we can sell them service, make a tidy profit, and the destitute will be able to remain only 3 or 4 payments behind on their rent. Once they default on our charges, they can simply throw away the phone under the guise of it's crappiness.

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrXym (126579) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @08:52AM (#7428243)
    This is a symptom of a society which thinks devices with artificial lifetimes is a good thing. Think of the mountains of AOL cds, junk mail, disposable cameras, disposable print heads, disposable tapes / DVDs etc. Is it any wonder that the US & Europe consume most of the worlds resources?


    It's not like the thing even does something you can't get now. Europe (and I hope the US) sell prepay and full featured phones starting from 50 euros - not just some crappy box that doesn't even have a display. So what is the point of this? I seriously doubt that this device is that much cheaper, and considerably more restricted in features and lifetime.


    The $5 deposit is just a sop.


    It's not like phones are the best devices from an environmental point of view (think of all the needlessly different battery and adaptor types), but at least they're not meant to be tossed away after so many minutes. In fact, most shops often have trade-in schemes for old models and pass them on to charities for refurbishment for third world countries. So some good comes from them.

  • Great I hope the smart states slap a hefty sales tax on these things to cover the cost of disposal say 100 dollars per unit, doesn't seem so cheap now huh? After all the company positively encourages the user to dispose these things.

    No mention of the initial up front costs of the unit.

    The call rate will certainly be higher to cover costs and make a profit, they do intend to make a profit right? Or are they hoping to pump the share price and make money by selling blocks of shares?

    No sms text, means this t
  • There's a company in Nebraska that makes custom vending machines. One of the advantages of the disposable-phone approach is that you wouldn't necessarily have to negotiate contracts with a peppy salesperson. Just swipe your card, choose your model, and you're on your way. Are the phone sales jobs good for the economy? My inclination is to put those people to work designing a better vending experience.
  • Suspicious company (Score:2, Informative)

    by Zouden (232738)
    I thought that logo looked similar. There was a company called Hop-On in Australia a few years ago that supposedly was going to offer free internet access (offset by advertising). The company disappeared before it started connecting users, AFAIK. The website (www.hopon.com.au) is dead but the internet archive has a copy [archive.org]. That's obviously the same logo.
    • Indeed you're right - I thought I smelled a scam when I read the site earlier... (f/x: checks share price).. 10cents a share. Total value of 62,000 dollars.

      Yup. That sure sounds like a company that can afford to develop a mobile phone.

  • Its so thin and disposable it doesn't even have a third dimension!
  • 911 button !? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dackroyd (468778) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @09:47AM (#7428357) Homepage

    It's already an annoying problem for the emegency services that phones dial 911 or 999 accidentally and they have to figure out whether its a real emergency and the person is unable to speak or whether the phone is unlocked in someones pocket.

    Now there's just a single freaking button to press ? - That may be a problem.
  • terrorism (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kipple (244681) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @10:14AM (#7428413) Journal
    excellent move, in such times. now terrorists won't even worry about giving their name to get a cellphone. they can buy one, call whoever they want to call, then throw the evidence away.

    this makes me think that when there's the chance to make some profit no fear-of-terrorist can stop it. it's interesting to see that this "culture of fear" only arises when profit is under threat, and is forgotten when no money can be harmed.
  • Dream on (Score:5, Informative)

    by jyoull (512280) <jim@media.mPERIODit.edu minus punct> on Sunday November 09, 2003 @12:42PM (#7428964)
    Go ahead, try to buy one! You can't. Offer them some investment money... they'll take it!

    Did nobody notice that all images of the "phone" are virtual mockups?

    How many promos/how much hype for this have I seen in the past three years?

    Hmm, BusinessWeek mag was persuadade that they were available back in 1999 and claimed to have tested one. [businessweek.com]

    It was later shown (by opening the case) that Hop-On's "disposable phones" were really Nokia phones with their own plastic casing put around them. ... and costing WAY more than $30 for the parts.

    There were some delays admitted-to [stockpatrol.com] long after the 1999 "demo", in June 2002

    There was a bit of a problem [stockpatrol.com] with a Universal Studios tie-in back in 2001:
    "In November 2001, Hop-On announced that it would partner with Universal Studios Home Video to give away a limited number of the disposable phone to purchasers of the "Jurassic Park III" DVD/ home video. The "winners" would get a free Hop-On phone if their copy of the video contained a special coupon. The promotion was cancelled when Hop-On failed to deliver the phones... Universal has advised Stock Patrol that it is sending all of those winners - about 1000 in all - $30 checks (the supposed cost of a Hop-On phone) and a free DVD. "

    See also http://www.wirelessreview.com/ar/wireless_cutting_ room_floor_2/ [wirelessreview.com]

    and oh, oopsie!!!!
    Disposable Cell Phone Company Hop-On Wireless CEO Indicted For Fraud [techdirt.com] (April 18, 2003 -- for ANOTHER venture of his, not Hop On, but it looks like a familiar tale)

    Last year we had the story of how it looked like disposable cell phone company Hop-On Wireless was a scam. Since then, I've seen the company highly touted in many news stories, talking about how it was this great invention... but which no one seemed to be selling. Now, the CEO of Hop-On has been arrested for fraud, relating to work he did on an earlier company - but which brings up many parallels to Hop-On. The earlier company was an online gambling site, which he raised a lot of money for. However, they did so by showing software that was really someone else's software "cosmetically altered" to look like their own. Hop-On's "disposable phones" were really Nokia phones with their own plastic casing put around them.

    From the hop-on website: [hop-on.com]
    Q. When will I be able to buy the Hop-on phone?
    A. The release date of our Hop-on phone is contingent on a variety of factors. We are doing everything we can to get our phones into the hands of all those who want and need them as soon as possible. If you like, you can e-mail us your contact information, and we'll let you know as soon as our phone is available in your area.
  • "Only In America" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tim Ward (514198) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @01:01PM (#7429053) Homepage
    Just don't get the environmental bit, do they, these Americans?

    Not if they can make money by deliberate waste, anyway; that's obviously a much more important contribution to the American Way.

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