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The Almighty Buck

Hop-On Hops Back On the PR Bandwagon 181

I thought CNN's gushing forth of breathless admiration in today's piece: 'Disposable cell phones on the way' sounded familiar. Yep, it's Hop-On, the same company Slashdotters took to task last March ('Disposable' Cell Phone Actually Repackaged Nokia) after reading the San Francisco Chronicle's expose ("Sample 'new' cell phone really just modified Nokia [8260]"). Maybe this time the technology is for real. Or maybe I'm just too skeptical for my own good. Caveat lector.
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Hop-On Hops Back On the PR Bandwagon

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  • Me, I'm just waiting for my next batch of disposable clothes. Can't go outside naked, can I! I guess a phone and camera would be handy too.
  • Will the signal strength be any good, especially in rural areas, with these disposable phones? I'd expect that with sub-standard components, they might not be able to perform as well. We'll see though.
    • If they are stripped down and re-packaged Nokia 8260s, then yes -- using them will be an excerise in futility.
    • Most likely, since they'll be so cheap, they'll use established (and quickly becoming outdated) cell technologies such as CDMA, TDMA, and even analog. These are by far the most wide-spread, established, technologies. Maybe they'll even be analog-only, since that bandwidth is quickly becoming unused as every phone less than a few years old supports digital.
    • Will the signal strength be any good, especially in rural areas, with these disposable phones? I'd expect that with sub-standard components, they might not be able to perform as well. We'll see though.

      Don't expect to reach the moon, but I think they'll give you a decent range. I'll bet you those earphones/hands free connections are specially design to act as antena.
  • by delphin42 ( 556929 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @04:31PM (#3973849) Homepage
    What I really need is a disposable cell phone that explodes 5 seconds after my minutes are used up.
  • by Xunker ( 6905 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @04:31PM (#3973862) Homepage Journal
    that's right, that's what's comming next, the "free" cell phone.

    How can they give away repackaged Nokias^H^H^H^H^H^H disposable phones? Easy, the "free" cell phone is AdWare!

    Yes, it comes with a man in a monkey suit and whenever you're on a call to someone he hops around in front of you begging you to punch him and win $10.

    Focus group studdies show that people just punch him and ignore the $10.
  • If you ask me, it's STILL to big. Call me when its down to the thickness of a credit card.
  • Customers buy scratch cards in increments of additional talk time of 60, 90 and 120 minutes, according to company officials.
    So maybe I don't understand--do you buy another disposable phone or do you buy some sort of "scratch card" to get extra minutes? If you buy some card, how long til someone figures out how to engineer a similar card? I did read the whole article and didn't see any further details about these cards.
    • Re:"Scratch cards"? (Score:2, Informative)

      by stevel ( 64802 )
      I've seen regular phone cards like this - there is a "scratch off" coating over a code number on the card. You buy the card and then scratch off the coating - like a lottery ticket. My guess is that you call some central toll-free number to enter the code and authorize additional minutes.
    • What I don't understand is if you can buy "additional talk time of 60, 90, and 120" minutes, are they really "disposable?" Is "disposable" the right word? Or just very low-quality, low-end cell phones that cost $29 instead of more?

      • As you said, they're not really disposable - just cheap. In regards to the possibility of making fake cards to get more minutes, they'll probably have a central database that will keep track of which cards have been purchased, and used. That would make it so that you would have to guess a card number that is already purchased, but not used yet.
        • Oops. Good point...so basically the "scratch cards" will be the same as existing phone cards. I was thinking they'd be actually integrated into the phone in some way. Weird name for a phone card by the way, and this is the most interesting part of the phone to me...how you buy extra minutes can make or break it.
        • In regards to the possibility of making fake cards to get more minutes, they'll probably have a central database that will keep track of which cards have been purchased, and used.

          They have a system like that here in Mexico, where I currently live. Effectively, it's a database of valid cards. The cards themselves have expiration dates, and then once you add the time to your account THAT has an expiration to. So when you buy more time from 7-11, you have to make sure the "Expire Date" hasn't passed or they will have already purged that card from their DB. Once you add your minutes, you have to use them within a month or two or they get wiped.

          The good side to the system is that often their central accounting DB apparently goes down. When that happens, pre-paid users can call anywhere in the world for as long as they want and it won't be charged to them. That's always cool, although I've never taken advantage of it since I never had anyone to call at the exact time when their system crashed. :)

      • Pretty much everything is disposable to a degree, the only question is, when does it become economically desirable to do so. Apparently this company feels the price is around that point.
  • by Robotech_Master ( 14247 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @04:37PM (#3973900) Homepage Journal
    Granted, they're not usually so inexpensive, but they're called TracPhones (or TracFones, however you misspell it). In fact, I bought a friend one a few months back for $40 on clearance. (Not like he ever seems to have the money to recharge it with minutes, so it didn't seem to do much good, but oh well.)

    What remains to be seen is whether these disposaphones' minutes have to be recharged each month like the TracFone's (unless you buy a $100 "all year account" card) or whether they stay on for longer. I'm betting they'll be good for 6 months after purchase, the way the cheapy long distance phone cards are.
    • 6 months?

      That would be great, here in Montreal we get only 45-90 days depending on how expensive the card you purchased was.

      Getting 1/2 a year would really be great
    • What ever happened to the disposable phone from Dieceland Technologies [dtcproducts.com], which was supposed to be made from laminated paper?

      They are promoting it as self-activating, and to be available in convenience stores and gas stations. I imagine the cheap manufacturing process and economies of scale would keep the cost low.
      • Well ... taking a look at that website, I'd bet that it's all fluff. A company that has the ability to create such a toy would probably also have enough of a budget that they wouldn't have to let a 12-year-old do their marketing. (The website has such gems as calling their product line "STT -- Super Thin Technology", and promotes a "paper lap top" that would be dirt cheap and The most powerful computer in the World, but has next to no actual information available.)
  • Americans are used to disposable toasters and cars. Disposable wireless phones are just the next step in the trend.
    • Disposable toasters? Where were you finding this marvel of modern engineering? All of the toasters I've ever seen have been built just like they were in the 40s (unless they are the high tech ones that have an additional plastic anti-burn sleeve). They last for a lifetime (my toaster is older than I am and it still works fine, although if it broke I could buy one just like it down at WalMart).

      Disposable cars? You're thinking of a Mini [mini.co.uk]...but that's a British car.

      Or more likely this was just a clumsy troll that was too humerous not to reply to. Disposable toasters. sheesh.
    • You forgot disposable wifes
    • Uhh, I would call a Kleenex "disposable" because you use it once and throw it away. I've gotten quite a few uses out of my car. Even under the looser definition of "worth repairing," a car is not disposable. People pay other people thousands to do engine and transmission work. So what are you thinking?
  • Anyone have an idea as to what the battery life on these things are? I mean, why would you buy refill minutes cards for these if they only last as long as typical cell phones (2hrs talk time or so). You could refill once then would have to spend another 40-60 on a new "disposible" phone. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Also, a deck of playing cards is pretty thick for this phone which makes me think it uses a traditional LiIon battery. Those are pretty expensive the last time I checked. I really don't see how they're going to make any money on this thing.

    On a side note, it would definitely be useful for people that want a phone for just emergency purposes. One time charge rather than those pre-paid services that require you to refill every 60-90 days or you lose your service. This would be a true one time emergency phone purchase which would definitely have some sort of market.
    • For more information about the phones and the technology behind it check out the Press Release [holleycomm.com] made by the company doing the electronics behind the phone.

      (Disclaimer I happen to work for them)

    • It doesn't matter if you lose your service, if you have a cell phone, the tower will accept your 911 call. I think there is a legal requirement, or it's just a courtesy arrangement.
  • rebate (Score:2, Interesting)

    by darc ( 532156 )
    Note the $5 rebate thing that they are proposing. If the rebate is $5, than we can assume that the phones are costing them more than that, probably far more. Assuming that their phones are costing them that much, add in the cost of service with a CDMA carrier... it doesn't seem like the company is going to be too successful.

    Besides, the phone looks like garbage. The modern cell phone really took off when models started to look good.
  • Me: "Excuse me, do you have debit?"

    Gas Station Attendant: "No, but we have a bank machine..." *points*

    Me: But there's a $2.50 fee for using that ABM!"

    Gas Station Attendant: "That'll be $18"

    disclaimer: to be used in regards to the tourist who will be looking for a payphone at 7-11 in 3 months
    • The big draw of debit cards was that they work just like credit cards. Have people forgotten this was a selling point: "Use your checking account anywhere that accepts credit cards."?

      If I use my debit card as a debit card in the local market the bank owning the machine charges me an access fee.

      If I use my debit card but hit the credit button instead I don't get charged an access fee! The bank that the market has an account with charges the market a credit card fee in this situation.
      • Yeah, this is pretty offtopic, but whatever. My complaint is with the gas stations that have signs loudly saying "Pay at the pump!" and then don't have any options for debit card/credit card payments, but rather a generic bank machine so that you can take out money, to pay inside. I almost laughed in the cashier's face when he told me that story...talk about a) inconvenient and b) expensive (a $2 bank fee is one thing when I'm withdrawing $60-100, it's quite another when I only need $20 to pay for gas...)
  • While I have to admit, this does appeal to my 'nifty-keen-go-go-gadget-toy' senses, I am curious what sort of ramifications this has for less than legal uses. This is the sort of thing a kidnapper could pick up to make a ransome call on, or any number of things where it would be useful for someone to be able to track down whose calling.

    Yes, yes, I know...anyone worth half a grain of salt could clone a cell phone. I suppose it's just that 'security' sense in me. Otherwise, this wouldn't be such a bad thing for adults to get for kids, so you can call little Johnnie and find out where he is, when he should be home doing his homework, huh?
    • I guess we should outlaw pay phones then.

      One of the original markets for these was you could by a phone for $40 and stick it in your [car | first aid kit | boat | lake house] or anywhere you might like to have a phone in case of emergencies.
      • I guess we should outlaw pay phones then.

        Yeah, it's likely an unfounded thing in the back of my head. But, at least payphones are stationary, and their numbers, which shouldn't change, can be identified more quickly than a disposable phone that's been recycled 12 times.

        One of the original markets for these was you could by a phone for $40 and stick it in your [car | first aid kit | boat | lake house] or anywhere you might like to have a phone in case of emergencies.

        Oh, I'm hip to uses like this. I'd certainly be interested in picking one up to leave in the car, or even stick one in my traveling briefcase, in case my cell dies, or I forget it. There are lots of good reasons to market a product like this; absolutely.
    • by sterno ( 16320 )
      No problem. He makes the call, they track him down to within a few feet of his location using the E-911 system and shoot him.
  • Ok um lets just think about this logically. The whole point in having a cell phone is so that I can call people in an emergency or if some else needs to get a hold of me. What am I going to say when I throw the phone away and someone needs to get a hold of me? "Um sorry dude I threw my phone away b/c I had to get the new Matrix cell phone? or should I say it is b/c the "new" disposable has an extra button that this model didn't have?" Give me a break!
    • I think the point is that in an emergency you could use this phone to make a call. If they have non-rechargeable batteries you should be able to store then for quite a while and have the phone ready in case of emergency. Maybe a 12 volt adapter just in case.

      I am dubious of the utility of these phone for receiving calls. I'm sure Hop-On will simply have a bulk deal with the carrier where they get a bunch of accounts and rotate them through the phones as they get "recycled." I think that is the disposable part -- the account not the phone. The minutes are way to expensive to be recieving calls for the last guy who had your number.

      Plus no LCD means no Caller ID.
  • What if they sold low-end real cellphones, unbundled from any plan or network, for, say, $40. Then various companies could sell phone cards for these cellphones at 5 or 10 cents per minute. This would cover most of the needs of people who would consider disposable cellphones without the "disposable" gimmick.
    • Hmm, what a good idea--It's very difficult to purchase a plain cell phone _sans_ service plan these days.

      I'd like to give a cell phone to my friend as a gift...he certainly has use for it, but doesn't want a phone tied to a service plan he can't afford yet. I'd buy him a cheap phone that can be put on whatever network he'd want.

      Prepaid isn't an option...cuz prepaid phones are pretty gay. They sound so "lower class" as told to me by every person I know who owns a prepaid phone. Plus, if you're going to be a light user, either get a plan where the minutes roll over each month //or// get a plan with very limited minutes anyways. You'll probably get a phone free...
  • This is getting ridiculous. I am as much a fan of convenience as the next guy, but this expectation that everything should be disposable, and the environment be damned, is completely out of control.

    Americans seem to think that the oceans and lands of the world exist as their private dumping grounds. Well, I have news for you. If you weren't filling the world up with your McDonald's wrappers, cigarette butts, plastic trousers, and now cellular telephones, then we would have enough land to deal with the overpopulation problem.

    Of course, this falls on deaf ears. America will not be happy until they have driven the civilized world into the ground, and taken themselves along with it.
    • Um... you forgot to spell "Amerika" with a 'K'.
    • I hate to respond to clear flamebait, but there's no overpopulation problem. With minor increases in agricultural productivity (much less than we've seen over the last 40 years), there are plenty of resources to feed even the higher-end population growth forecasts. Even today, the world produces more than enough food for everyone. Food shortages that exist today are purely man-made (a la Zimbabwe).
      • by Telex4 ( 265980 )
        There's enough food in *total*, but most of it is in Europe and North America, where people have good soil, and good climate and enough unecessary technology to make more than enough food.

        I hatee to burst your bubble, but whilst many of the food shortage problems in Africa are man-made, drought still takes a heavy toll, and one of the major problems there at the moment is that the leaders and other better-off countries aren't putting enough money into buying food reservers (many African leaders have a taste for luxuries built on the death of their subjects).

        But there is also a chronic population problem in developing countries - they simply cannot sustain the population in terms of food and money, in part because of western policy, in part because of local policy, and in part becausee of natural phenomena.
      • Indeed, the overpopulation issue might be irrelevant at this point, but the question still remains -- why should we focus on "disposable" technologies rather than make the best use out of the available resources? Whether or not overpopulation is an issue right now has no bearing on the fact that our resources are in fact limited, and we should be putting forth some sort of effort to recycling what can be recycling rather than wasting time and effort churning up more resources.

        I for one would include maximizing the utility of our resources as an important component to technological progress. I can understand trying to make things inexpensive, but this whole "disposable culture" paradigm has not been constructed for the benefit of the consumer or the environment in which they live. It's just another way to get people to pay for the same thing more than once.

    • America - just doing our part to keep the population under control by messing up the environment.

      Why are you implying that we have an overpopulation problem in the same breath as villifying American consumer habits? Two wrongs don't make a right, do they?
    • The parent is exactly right.

      Exactly what America does not need is another throwaway item. Like the wrappers on food, aluminum cans and plastic bottles from the carbonated beverages they consume, these cellphones will just become another disposable tchotche to strain America's already overflowing landfills.

      And it's not as if making them recyclable will help. Americans have no taste for recycling or reuse--everything has to be new (just look at the booming sales of new garish SUVs). Even if you could recycle 100% of the new phone, I wouldn't expect to see it in American's blue boxes. It's so much easier to just throw it out and buy another one.

      This whole disposable cell phone thing is just symptomatic of an American culture that will overuse whatever resources it can get its hands on--lumber from Canada and its own old-growth forests, fossil fuels like it was going out of style, food, etc. And this thing just makes me shake my head, wonder if Americans will ever learn to respect the environment they are cultured to plunder, and pray for our fragile Earth.
      • Thank you for your comments. You make some excellent points that I wasn't able to touch on in my initial comments. Specifically:

        And it's not as if making them recyclable will help. Americans have no taste for recycling or reuse--everything has to be new (just look at the booming sales of new garish SUVs).

        This is so true. Recycled vehicles have performed almost as poorly in the marketplace as hybrid cars. Without government and consumer support, American companies are giving people exactly what they demand: bigger, stronger, shinier. And all of it would be impossible without the slave labor they import from Canada and Mexico.
        • This is so true. Recycled vehicles have performed almost as poorly in the marketplace as hybrid cars.

          By 'recycled' vehicle, I don't mean a vehicle that's literally forged from recycled steel from other cars. I was thinking specifically of the fact that it seems like every American must purchase him or herself a new vehicle every two years to be the good little consumer that his or her government wants and to keep up with the neighbours.

          Why isn't a used car good enough? Why do Americans' vehicles have to be these brand new, huge, gas-guzzling juggernauts that 80% of the time carry only one person? The US Senate really botched it when they failed to pass the fuel-efficiency standards for SUVs and light trucks, and I predict that in 20-25 years, especially if shit goes down in the Middle East with Palestine and Iraq, there will be another fuel crisis.

          No worries though--they'll suck Alaska dry, killing untold species of animal. Fear not, America--your SUVs are safe! Consume away, brothers!
      • Americans have no taste for recycling or reuse--everything has to be new (just look at the booming sales of new garish SUVs).

        Don't mistake the American love of large things for a lack of recycling or reuse. I've done a lot of traveling, and never seen a country that covets old cars as much as the southern states do. We can't buy old garish SUV's simply because there haven't been any big ones: the few that have long shelf lives (the original Jeep Grand Cherokee wagons, Range Rovers, and Toyota Land Cruisers) are eagerly gobbled up and even seen as status symbols.

        This whole disposable cell phone thing is just symptomatic of an American culture that will overuse whatever resources it can get its hands on...

        Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't America the first to come out with stringent emissions standards for cars? Take California, who's heading for a zero-emissions standard by the end of the decade - there's no country taking such a firm stance on emissions.
        • Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't America the first to come out with stringent emissions standards for cars? Take California, who's heading for a zero-emissions standard by the end of the decade - there's no country taking such a firm stance on emissions.
          The US (US!=America) were the "first" to enact low-emiision laws (which were fighted tooth and nail by the car cartels) simply because they were the first to be choked with exhaust fumes, especially California which, thanks to Los-Angeles, was the leader in the choking "revolution".

  • Those pick-up and go cell phones you can get at 7-Eleven and other convenience stores. Except that they are even cheaper and WILL give people the following ability...

    Disposable Cell Phone Super Power:

    Truly Anonymous Phone calls. If these are to be treated like disposable cameras, then each phone probably has its own phone number attached to it. This would be interesting...

    Never again to kid-nappers, terrorists and other world-domination minded hackers have to resort to "traceable" cellular phones! Now, all they need to do is go down to ANY convenience store and pick one of these babies up.

    Hmm... I suppose that when that TIPS thing goes into action, everyone can just call and turn in every single one of those disposable cell phone users. I mean, who would want to use such a device? If it can be anonymous, only terrorists, kid-nappers and world-domination minded crazed hackers would use them!

  • OSNews [osnews.com] is reporting:
    The August 2002 update for MSDN contains the Windows Services for Unix 3.0, adding the Interix technology into Windows. Heres the blurb:
    Microsoft Windows Services for UNIX 3.0 provides a full range of cross-platform services geared towards customers wanting to integrate Windows into their existing UNIX environments. With the addition of the Interix subsystem technology, SFU 3.0 now provides platform interoperability and application migration components in one fully integrated and supported product from Microsoft. Key Distinguishing Feature from SFU 2.0 The most significant feature of SFU 3.0 is the integration of the Interix subsystem technology. The Interix technology provides over 1900 UNIX APIs and migration tools such as: make, rcs, yacc, lex, cc, c89, nm, strip, gbd, as well as the gcc, g++, and g77 compilers.
    you can verify this yourself here [microsoft.com]

    So it looks like someone may finally have found a way to make money of GPL software - sell a posix-compatability layer for Windows along with gpl applications. [guess when we see this on the slashdot frontpage?]

    Interestingly enough, they list as a benefit... "Optimize existing investments in UNIX applications by reusing code, which you can now run on Windows. Plus, update old code with COM and .NET technology to get new value from your UNIX applications."

    I guess Left Hand forgot to tell Right Hand that GPL is evil and can't be used with .Net

  • A friend ran the North American production operations of a wireless handset company until quite recently, and he told me that, in multi-million unit volumes, the COST of producing the cheapest available handset circuit boards (not including the casing or assembly) was a bit over $20. Since that was just the RF electronics, these phones have to be costing them $30 or so, at least. Basically, once marketing and airtime is included (airtime wholesale will run them at least $0.03 per minute, or $1.80 for the included 60 minutes), if nobody ever recharges the phones, these folks are hosed.
    • If nobody recharges the phones they make even more money.

      They are suggesting a $5 rebate on the phone when yo turn it in for recycling. Most people who aren't going to recharge the phone will want the five bucks.
      If the new phone cost $32 to produce they are probably sold to wholesale near cost. Hop-On buys recycled phones back for $6 from retailers (they get an extra dollar as incentive to encourage recycling) and adds another $2 worth of minutes, $1 worth of packaging and sells it wholesale for $32.

      Hop-On makes nothing the first time they sell the phone, but they make $23 each subsequent time it is sold. Not bad.

      You can also bet extra minutes will sell for at least $.15/minute. So if you recharge they make $7.20 on each 60 minute phone card.
  • by HorsePunchKid ( 306850 ) <sns@severinghaus.org> on Monday July 29, 2002 @04:48PM (#3973998) Homepage
    "Recyclable"? Where are the telephone sanitizers when you need them?

  • From the article:
    Calls made within the same area code are local, but calling between area codes would involve paying additional toll charges.
    Here in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, the local calling area for wireline and cell phones comprises 4 different area codes. I don't think I'd be much inclined to buy a phone that only works in one of them without draining extra minutes. I'd guess other major metro areas have the same situation.
  • CNN Fooled Again!

    Oh, wait, that's not anything new.

  • by Telex4 ( 265980 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @04:50PM (#3974012) Homepage
    This idea of "disposable" everything is really attrocious. We have finite resources on this planet, a delicate ecosystem, and yet we go around making as many things as possible disposable, consumable, bulk-buyable. These phones are just another step down the road to complet unsustainability; no technology could sustain this nonsense.

    Besides that, mobile phones are also a "moral minefield", as a NewScientist article [newscientist.com] points out, because they require components that are arguably fuelling a civil war in Congo that is tearing the country (and its people) apart.

    Sure, convenience is nice, but isn't this just a bit much? They offer a $5 rebate to people who bring them back, but I doubt $5 is going to tempt the rich executives who the article suggests these might be marketed at (though it probably will tempt the lower income people it also mentions).

    It's also probably going to attract even more kids who don't have ethe money for a phone right now, and who really shouldn't have them for medical (and IMO social) reasons. It's just another case of the predominantly Western consumer looking no farther than his/her own convenience.

    • From the article you quote:
      Most of the world's declared supply of tantalum is mined as tantalite ore, and comes from Australia. There are also significant reserves in Brazil, Canada and Nigeria. But unofficially, 80 per cent of the world's tantalum reserves are believed to be in Africa, and 80 per cent of those in Congo.

      AUSTRALIA is a nice western nation.
      Stop trolling. If it's not a troll, go take an economics class. Mod this drivel down.

      • Did you read the article? Just because the tantalum exists somewhere, that doesn't mean it's readily available. It takes 10 years to open up a new mine, and 2 years to expand an existing one. Tantalum demand has been skyrocketing -- its price went up about 10 times in 2000, and currently sits at 60-70% of that high. So companies that are desparate to cut costs are going to buy the stuff wherever they can find it. If the Congo rebels can offer a lower price than a "nice Western nation" like Australia, that's where they're going to get it.
    • Oh, please.

      Rich executives are not going to want to use $30 disposable phones. All the executives with whom I have worked have either the serviceable mainstream type with a brand-name service such as AT&T or Verizon or Cingular, or they have a top-of-the-line model, often Japanese or European, with a similar service and global roaming.

      They aren't going to want to change their phone numbers every 60 minutes.

      No, it will be used as pay-in-advance phones are always used, by people who want them for emergencies only, and by people for whom traceable phone numbers would be Very Embarrassing.
    • This idea of "disposable" everything is really attrocious. We have finite resources on this planet, a delicate ecosystem, and yet we go around making as many things as possible disposable, consumable, bulk-buyable. These phones are just another step down the road to complet unsustainability; no technology could sustain this nonsense.

      Our "delicate" ecosystem is likely to outlive us by tens of millions of years, so don't weep for its sake.

      Nor are we likely to run out of resources. Firstly, if we're willing to process low-grade ores, we have mind-boggling amounts of any desired material available.

      Secondly, raw materials will stop being a problem when our garbage becomes a higher-grade ore than what we'd otherwise be mining. Expect recycling to make big money in the next century or two as cities become closed systems resource-wise.

      The real issue of conservation is not whether we'll run out of materials or make the planet uninhabitable - it's whether the planet will be _comfortable_ to live on, and whether all of our favourite fuzzy critters at the top of the biological pyramid will still be here for us to look at. This is perfectly do-able; it's just a question of whether we, as a race, consider it worth a little added inconvenience and expense. The jury's still out on this one.

      In summary, you are addressing the wrong question with your alarmist rant about ecology.

      I'll leave it to someone else to tear apart your political rant.
    • Well said. I have a clunky old Siemens C11 cellphone that I bought back in the dawn of time (aka 1998). It's been soaked, dropped, kicked around, left in a fridge for a week, and run over by a car. It's scuffed, scratched, missing the rubber port cover, and the battery case is held on with tape. It doesn't have customisable ring tones, or a graphical display, or build in games, or speech dialing or WAP features. My workmates openly laugh at it.

      Until I ask them if they know where and how old cell phones are "recycled" [npr.org]. And point out that my 'phone still has 72 hours standby and 60 minutes talk time (on the original and carefully managed battery), the same as most of theirs. And the same range. And the same voice clarity. And SMS text messaging. And a hundred number 'phonebook. And it doesn't even weigh significantly more than theirs. It's just in a bigger - and far tougher - case.

      I'll replace my 'phone when it stops working and not a second before. When I do, I'll replace it with the most robust 'phone on the market (you can find reviews in ourdoorsy and extreme sports magazines). Not the smallest, or the one with the biggest screen or longest feature list, because if you purchase a 'phone on any of those criteria, then you'll need a new one in three months to stay at the cutting edge. And then again in another three months. And again. And again.

      Unfortunately, that's what the market is based on now, selling us 'phones that we don't need. There's actually an advertising campaign in the UK right now telling us that we should be embarassed to have old 'phones, and that people should laugh at us. I actually think the joke's on people that feel pressured into paying hundreds of pounds to upgrade their 'phone every six months. Unfortunately, I'm in the minority.

      • Wow, even though I don't have a phone, if I did, I'd want yours! I too get annoyed by those adverts, by people who replace perfectly functional ones for new ones with slightly bigger screens, or that are slightly smaller and easier to lose.

        What amazes me is how interested people are in them, crowding around somebody's new model to admire the, urm, new shape?
  • Cell phones overseas (Score:4, Informative)

    by junimota ( 582971 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @04:56PM (#3974054) Journal
    Coming back from an extended trip of Europe and Asia, I was appalled at how far behind our cell phone technology is. GSM seems to be the best solution. You can walk into little cell phone stalls on the side of the street in many countries, get a chip and a card with minutes - for as little as 10 dollars and viola, in a matter of minutes you know have a phone number in that respective country. Refills for minutes are from anywhere from 5 to 50 dollars. Your phone number is yours, doesn't change every time you refill your minutes. And my cell phone worked in every country I was in. I had to buy a phone for there - the GSM phone I had here runs at 1800, not 1900 as it seems to be all over the planet. Any time I happen to go back to Turkey, Greece, or even Singapore, I have my own number. All I have to do is change out the chip, and buy minutes if needed. Now, why can't we have that here in the States?
  • After reading the article, it seems that these phones are clearly part of a scam to obtain potential investors, and they have a record to prove it:
    As previously reported, The Chronicle found a raft of other questions surrounding the company. For instance, the California Department of Corporations raided an online gambling venture tied to Hop-On in 1999 for allegedly fleecing investors out of as much as $20 million. And last month, the state suspended Hop-On's corporate status, saying it had failed to pay $400 and file its tax returns for two years in a row.
    I hope the state gets wind of this and decides to look into it, too often honest investors get conned into these types of things. Corporations taking part in these types of scandals clearly need their managment to be held personally liable (Ie. Jail terms for particiapants proven guitly of the scam). Yes, just like Enron Execs now.

    Underneath the red plastic casing, one sample was clearly labeled inside as a "Nokia 8260."

    ..the company has yet to receive approval from the Federal Communications Commission to manufacture its own phone.

    The proof is in the pudding, where's the pudding?
  • What will they think of next? Disposable condoms? Nah -- not practicle.
  • Imagine the possibilites. For a couple of 10 dollar bills, you can get anonymous calling (although they might listen in...). And imagine the taking-apart possibilities. One could take the transmitters, screw with them a bit, connect them to their computers, or get two and change them to different frequencies for two-way radios...the posibilities are endless. And I've always loved taking stuff apart...and now I can add a cell phone to my list... I'll buy a few....If they ever come out. ;)

  • by John_McKee ( 100458 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @05:05PM (#3974119) Homepage
    Here is the page on the FCC website on the approval of the device.

    https://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/oet/ forms/reports/Search_Form.hts?fetchfrom=0&form=Gen eric_Search&mode=edit&show_records=50&grantee_code =QHO&product_code=HPN1600 [fcc.gov]

    The relevent PhoneScoop page is here: http://www.phonescoop.com/phones/phone.php?id=179 [phonescoop.com]

    Photos, a users guide, and other information is avalible.
  • by mblase ( 200735 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @05:06PM (#3974123)
    Remember how silly disposable cameras once seemed? "When they first came out, most people thought, 'Ah, why would I want a disposable camera? That changed rather quickly" when consumers discovered new uses for them, said Michaels.

    Yes, but I could always buy disposable cameras for around $10 (US), and today can buy cheap non-flash ones for around $6. That's easy to justify. Sixty minutes of air time for $40 isn't quite as easy to throw away. That $10 target is a big psychological barrier for consumers when the word "disposable" is involved.

    AT&T can get me $0.05 per minute for state-to-state long distance, twice that for in-state long distance. My non-disposable cell phone gets me 2000 minutes per month for around $100, or $0.20 per minute. If I'm buying a disposable phone, I'd like to pay no more than $0.30-$0.40 per minute, or about $10 for half an hour. For that kind of money, I'd happily send one with my daughter to summer camp, or even take it on vacation myself.

    Bottom line: $40 is too much. $20 is managable. $10 is ideal, and if they could hit that dollar amount customers would beat a path to their door.
    • The press releases sound like bs to me, but ....

      I do think $40 is a very reasonable price. A lot of people buy cellphones (likely not you or the rest of the tech savvy community) for safety. Emergency use for the kids, emergency use for the car. Image the huge deal these guys could get installing them in rental cars! When I initially got a cell phone it was because I wanted to have a communication device in my car in case I broke down commuting. I would much rather spend $40 for that piece of mind....

    • My non-disposable cell phone gets me 2000 minutes per month for around $100, or $0.20 per minute.

      Actually, 5 cents, which makes your point even stronger.
  • Seeing as the new picture looks just like that old picture, and the form factor (the size of a pack of smokes) is about the size, and the price seems about that right for an 8260 (40 bucks isn't exactly "disposable" to most people) and for that matter the button layout is the same as the 8260. But then again maybe it is all one huge coincedence.
  • Logical Step... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tunabomber ( 259585 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @05:14PM (#3974167) Homepage
    According to a related story [cnn.com], the cellphones that people commonly use now are practically treated as disposables. I guess they're not out of their minds to create a phone that is at least recycleable.

  • by monkeydo ( 173558 ) on Monday July 29, 2002 @05:15PM (#3974169) Homepage
    How could CNN print this crap without checking into the history [stockpatrol.com] of this company? Surely someone there remembers that this same company has pulled this scam before. Hop-On keeps issuing press releases every month or so touting how close they are to product release, and how succesful they are even though no one has seen one of their phones.

    According to all of their press releases [hop-on.com] they will have CDMA, TDMA, and GSM phones. Quite an engineering and desgin feat for a company that employs 15 people.

    • How could CNN print this crap without checking into the history of this company?

      Perhaps because the Hop-on phone just recieved FCC approval [fcc.gov] and therefore must now exist as a working product?
      • > Perhaps because the Hop-on phone just recieved FCC approval [fcc.gov] and therefore must now exist as a working product?

        Interesting. If you go to the FCC's [fcc.gov] approval record, you can get internal photos [fcc.gov] of the device.

        Can anyone with a Nokia 8260 pop it open to see if it's the came circuit board of an 8260 or other commonly-available cellphone?

        Does anyone know if the circuit board pictured can be fabbed for $30 a pop? (Then again, without an LCD display, maybe it can be made cheaper than a Nokia 8260. Come to think of it, I don't see anything on the circuit board that looks like it was designed to hook into an LCD, so maybe they really do have their own design this time.)

        Can anyone in the know on cellfone design give a yea or nay on whether the FCC filing looks legit?

      • I would expect CNN to at least comment on the past history of the company. There is the possibility that Hop-On pulled a fast one with the FCC you know. An informed journalist might be a little more skeptical of their claims.
        • I would expect CNN to at least comment on the past history of the company. There is the possibility that Hop-On pulled a fast one with the FCC you know. An informed journalist might be a little more skeptical of their claims.

          You expect modern American news outlets to be something more than a outlet for reworded press releases?
  • Its always nice when someone comes up with a new concept but it would be nice if these things stays on the drawing board for the sake of our environment, I'm not saying this will melt more iceberg's or enlarge the ozone hole, but its a trend, we don't need more disposal things we need better built things that last's longer, like my unbreakable HP48..
  • 911 Button? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dbCooper0 ( 398528 )
    Whenever my old Nokia would get bumped around in my messy car, there was a 50/50 chance of it redialing the last number - that was an annoyance.

    Although I understand the importance of reaching the dispatcher(s) quickly, I wonder how much that prominent button (which probably completes the call with one touch) will clog up the 911 services, especially in major metro areas?

    Oh yeah, never mind - this is just a scam anyway! ;o))

  • shoot a gorilla ourselves. Disposable elctronics are killing our natural habitats like few other things. There is a rather heinous link between mountain gorillas and cell phones :(

  • what happens if you buy the phone, but it in your car, forget it's there for a couple of years, then REALLY NEED IT (i.e. break down 100s of miles from home) but some Next Big Thing in wireless comes along and the company stops supporting the protocol that your phone speaks?

    What if you buy the phone, hide it in the car, trade the car in forgetting the phone is in there, and somebody gets the phone, calls in and gets your personal info?

  • Great, so every time you buy a new phone (and let's take GSM as an example) and a new SIM card and now you have to get a new area code.

    What a fucking brilliant idea. We don't have enough area code problems already, let's give people disposable phones!

    This message brought to you by an Angeleno who is sick of area code bullshit and will happily gore anyone who deliberately hastens the changes.
    • Would it not be that difficult to assign say 2 area codes to cell phones, and have a different dialing structure for them?

      My understanding is: Dialed area code sends the call to that area code's computer systems and passes the rest of the number along unused.

      The target area code's system then picks the exchange and extension and routes the call there...only one operation is required on the dialing system side.

      Why not make cell phones use a different dialing structure? Give them the 987 area code or something else equally memorable and presently unused, and an 8 or 9 digit phone number.

      I.e. 1-987-provider(2)-geographic(2)-extension(4)

      1-987-02-14-4817. Most people would probably write it 1-987-0214-4817, which is a little closer to what we're used to seeing.

      With that system there are 100 * 100 * 1000 == 10 million possible numbers (I estimate.)

      Solved an area code problem right there. The only issue might be the proper routing of the signal to an uplink site...Provider and Geographic would still have to be routed by the land-line, but the geographic portion could probably be routed by the cellular company, rather than the telco.
  • "Hop-On phones employ the same high-quality electronic components and proven technology as today's full-featured phones. To achieve our goal of offering basic, affordable cellular service to everyone, we have simply de-featured our phones to eliminate unnecessary costly items. " - Hop-On PR.

    Or, in other words, they're repackaging someone else's electronics.

  • I'm sure I've posted this before, but it's worth another mention. It seems Hop-on have promised other 'great' things as well.

    In Australia, for months their was advertising for Hop-On - free Internet access on the back of taxi's. The website was www.hop-on.com.au [hop-on.com.au], and you had to go there to register. (URL is now broken).

    It seems to be the same hop-on as the website uses the same style and advertising mascot as the one in the US.

    The free internet never came, and was never heard of again.

    So I would be very skeptical of this company.


"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain