Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Baby babble

Martin Geddes - Telepocalypse


What I want: a Skype “phone” I can give to my daughter which is battery powered and lets her talk to her grandparents and — in future — her cousins.
Up to five buttons, one for each person. When they’re online, the button glows green. When you’re talking to that person, it glows red. Press the button to connect and disconnect. Press multiple buttons for a conference call between all grandparents. Totally under the initiative of your kid, no parents needed. Incoming calls? Probably not, or at least a parent-selectable option (naturally, only from pre-approved buddies). Auto power-off after 5 mins of relative silence.
Provisioned either remotely or via USB. Client could be running on an always-on PC and using the Skype API — doesn’t need local compute power, just ability to communicate button presses and 2-way audio. Bluetooth would do if it wasn’t a hopelessly crippled “smart network” standard. Maybe even just a slightly hacked version of DECT or FRS radio technology instead. Should be tumbling out of Chinese factory for $10-15 or less. Retail for $80-100 this year, $49.99 in Costco next year, $29.99 in Wal-Mart year after. (Uniden can sell me 2 cordless phones and a base station for $80 at retail right now, and Wal-Mart 2 FRS radios for $8. This is a high-margin device in year 1.)
Device is not for holding to the head — mama won’t like that. Just a speakerphone-like device that sits on the floor.
The paradox: you get more value by not being able to initiate calls to any phone in the world. Less is more.
I don’t want a smartphone for Christmas. I want a Fisher Price phone that works.
There’s still time. Anyone dare?

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