Friday, September 11, 2009

Dick Tracy phone in London before NYC

Some 60 years after it was imagined by Chester Gould, and more than six months after the product was pre-announced at CES, LG recently released its “GD910” watch phone. Dick Tracy never heard of 3G networks or touch-screen LCDs, but he did sport the world’s first (albeit fictional) wrist-mounted videophone.

Priced at £500, the first 50 phones that went on sale in London sold out in 10 minutes, although more are coming. The phone is also available in Dubai but not the US.

The FT reviewer raved about the phone in this morning’s “How to Spend It” conspicuous consumption supplement. However CNET UK was more restrained.

However, FT reviewer Jonathan Margolis notes the main value delivered by the phone is status:

Will you find it useful? Absolutely not — unless it’s to impress people in offices, bars, airport lounges and everywhere else on the planet. … It’s the Bugatti Veyron of gadgetry: pointless, impractical, sublimely silly but impossibly desirable. Could it be a rebirth for the most unwanted technology in gadget history, the video phone call? Of course not, don’t be silly.
If it’s available for sale without a required data plan, then at $834 actually quite a bit cheaper than the iPhone. Also more exclusive — a few hundred vs. 30 million — even if it’s not nearly as useful.

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