Talk to the hand! Wristwatch phones have arrived, Australia gets them first

By Martin Vedris

SYDNEY: Mention a wristwatch phone and the first thing most people do is make Dick Tracy jokes. It’s no joke however, wristwatch mobile phones are now a reality in Australia and they’re so new, they’re not in retail stores yet.

“Dick Tracy had a watch phone 40 to 50 years ago,” said NV Mobile CEO, Anthony Cooke. “Now it’s a reality.”

NV Mobile is an Adelaide-based company that designed wristwatch mobile phones and smart phones in collaboration with Chinese manufacturers. It has been 18 months in the planning and Australia is the test market because the company also has plans to sell the phones internationally.

And while the company is currently selling these fully functional mobile phone wristwatches on their website, www.nvmobile.com.au, NV Mobile is also looking to appoint retailers to sell the product.

Cooke is convinced that this is the best thing in phones since they went mobile.

“In 10 to 20 years this will take over the large screen phones,” Cooke said. “If we didn’t think it would take off we wouldn’t do it.”

He could be onto something, LG Electronics recently announced a wristwatch mobile phone at the CES show in the USA. And the two-way wrist radio ‘phone’ was launched in to the Dick Tracy comic way back in 1946, but people are still talking about it today. It clearly made a huge impression.

The Dick Tracy two-way radio eventually evolved into a two-way TV and while two-way TV is not available yet, these wristwatch phones do have TV tuners with global roaming. While the current generation of these phones have analogue TV tuners, a digital tuner is on the way.

“We’re 12 months ahead of what you’re seeing here today,” said Cooke, who also said that he wasn’t concerned that other massive consumer electronics manufacturers might launch wristwatch mobile phones themselves and carve up the market.

“Our benefit is that we’re fluid,” said Cooke. “We can change a model in four weeks if required.” Cooke was referring to the fact that large companies often typically introduce one or two models to test a market and will often require months or a year or more to react to the market with new product because of their sheer size and accountabilities.

While Cooke said he was not targeting a specific demographic, he quoted sales statistics that 10 million mobile phones are purchased in Australia every year and that the average phone turnover is nine to 10 months. Cooke is aiming for a modest market share, at first.

“We’re aiming for 100,000-plus in the first year and then increasing 10-fold after that,” he said.

Cooke said that the company’s website will have a retail store locater within 20 weeks, once retail partners come on board to sell the product. He says that the company is also set up to deal with wholesalers, resellers, distributors and retailers.

In terms of future products, Cooke said his company has a water-resistant model but not in this first release. This release does have a model that allows you to unclip the watch unit from the watch band so you can keep it safe on land if you’re going swimming.

Some models in this current range of smart watch phones and smart phones feature handwriting recognition so you can write text messages. Cooke also demonstrated the LCD screen and multimedia capabilities by playing a Matrix movie.

The phones are available with a 12 month warranty and a 30-day replacement warranty. The company’s smart phones also have twin sim capability so they can run two sim cards, even from two different phone networks, on the one phone.

Cooke also said that the company’s next generation products are 100 per cent Australian designed and he said the company is hoping to manufacture them in Australia as well.

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