Ever since CNN broadcast a report on the biggest mobile telephone in the world, the North Bohemian company Jablotron has been bombarded with orders. The phone looks like an ordinary fixed-line telephone with large buttons and a normal-size receiver. It also has a key-pad with the complete alphabet and a large display. The only difference is that it is mobile - you can take it to your country cottage, use it when on holiday or if you're really brave and don't mind looking awkward use it outside in public. Since this mega mobile was introduced to the public in November, Jablotron's two hundred employees have been working around the clock. The company has also been forced to seek help from sub-contractors to produce the 140,000 units that are to be delivered to customers by March.
We spoke to Jablotron's General Director Dalibor Dedek and started off by asking him how else, apart from size, their product differed from regular cell phones:
"It's uncomplicated. You don't have to scroll in menus if you don't want to. When you want to read an SMS text message, you only press the 'read' button, and when you want to write a message, you only press the 'write' button. But you should not expect to be able to put it into your pocket."
"Well, our company designs and manufactures alarm systems in buildings. Some time ago, we decided to have the SMS solution system part of the alarm system, allowing customers to control their home [alarm] system through their mobile phones. Step by step, we came to realise that we were actually creating a large mobile phone. The other thing was that people were frequently rushing to second-hand shops to buy mobile phones for their older parents, trying to get the old-fashioned mobile phones with larger buttons."
How much interest has there been?
"We were shocked. We knew that we were the only manufacturer offering a large-size mobile phone and many people thought we were crazy. But after we exhibited the product for the first time at the electronics show in Hong Kong, there was a dramatic wave of interest from all over the world. The main potential customers are GSM providers."
So it's not just individual people - older people - who call you up with an order?
"Our initial plan was to address older people but it appears that GSM providers are ready to attack land lines [with our product]. Everyone has a mobile phone today and it is difficult to get new customers. |But there are still millions of people using land lines and not all land line providers offer the same services like mobile phone providers. Most of the time people have to pay monthly fees just to have a cable going to their house. You can insert any SIM card you want [into our phone]. So, you can even use a prepaid card."
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