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Friday, March 31, 2006

The next step to convergence is ... Divergence: The case of the KosherPhones

Customer: Hi ! I'd like to sign up for your phone service !
Convergent Agent: Fantastic ! We have a flat rate of $20 per month. You get email, SMS, video, voice, weather reports, stock portfolio, bank account linking and push to talk as our 'basic service'
Customer: Uhh.... how much cheaper if I just want to talk ?
Convergent Agent: Actually, for just voice, monthly rate is $45 instead of $20. We charge you to take away services, not add them in.

A ridiculous situation ? A little far fetched, maybe. But if you think it is ridiculous and who would want to simplify such great features, did you read about Kosher Phones ?

A smart Israeli company has identified a niche market to sell 'dumbed down' phones to a particular segment who believe the new fangled services is contrary to their beliefs and may complicate their lives uneccessary. This company (MIRS) takes regular phones from motorola and others and dumbs them down to serve to orthodox Jewish communities and from what I read in a recent WSJ article titled 'Put God on the line', it already has a customer base of 70,000+ customers.

But really, this concept goes far beyond 'religious preference'. It addresses a much more basic question - how much of convergence do we really need ? And who is looking into balancing convergence with the security implications ?

I am personally neck deep into this convergence space working with vendors of all type (clients, servers, you name it) - and let me tell you, everyone's marketing department is pushing the strategy of putting everything in your mobile phone.

Now here we see, some smart cookies take a step back and go back to the old philosphy of 'less is more' and have applied it to be a profitable business model.

Food for thought ?


  1. I am not jewish but I agree with the rationale. The bells and whistles on any equipment, or utility will continue to remain b&w, unless someone really derives economic value from them. Has anyone researched how many people really use the b&w and from that number how many derive satisfaction from it. Even if I had all the utilities available on my phone on hand, it wouldn't be my only source due to it's vulnerability. I use the internet everyday but haven't tied myself to electronics that I couldn't function with a good balance on life. Having bells and whistles sounds nice but if I wanted a weather report I'd call the local weather station, or the agent for stocks info. Now, If I was into trading or into weather, I'd definitely have better equipment to keep me updated rather than depend on mobile phones. I think techies just add more b&w just because they know they can and it sounds nice when you want to prove your phone does better than another, in other words, trying to outdo the Jones.

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  3. [...] The next step to convergence is … Divergence: The case of the Kosher Phones - Simplicity will always have a market ! A look at some Israeli companies cashing in by tying religious beliefs to technology [...]