For those that have no idea what the hell a “No Phone” is, on last night’s “Shark Tank” episode they featured a product that is the very definition of useless—or maybe not. No-Phone is a mock-phone make-up that is really just a piece of plastic made to look like an IPhone. For an extra six bucks, you can get the “selfie” upgrade that features a shiny metal plate you can see yourself in. It’s as much a statement about how zombified we are by our phones as anything.
Kevin O’Leary seemed disgusted at the idea of a product that is useless, calling it “poo poo on a stick” (whatever the hell that means…can poop even stay stable on a stick?) and pondering if he’d entered some alternate universe where products have no value. Yet he said this in the same episode where someone was offering up a line of customized dog merchandise and someone else was offering a $300 tool box, so I’m not sure No-Phone was too out of place.
Sure, No-Phone isn’t “valuable” in the way most premium products are, but are endless IPhone upgrades really that necessary either? Plus, I think the sales could work if they focus on a few key categories…
–Gag Gifts. They mentioned this one on the show, but I see more value than just that…
–Lecturing tool. For parents looking to scold their kids for excessive phone time.
–Punishment. Parents can also give it to their kids as punishment when they’re grounded or phone-deprived.
–Totem for swag bags. Something extra to put in a swag bag.
–To teach about texting and driving. Give it as a reminder about the dangers and fatalities of texting and driving, maybe with something extra to signify this.
–Give away at seminars or community service. You can even give it away at texting and driving seminars or those driving schools people have to take after they get a ticket.
–A decoy phone. Worried about your phone getting stolen? Leave this in a vulnerable place to protect your real phone. It might also be good for high level corporate executives worried about trade secrets getting stolen.
–Place holder for a room where you can’t have phones. Say you go into a sensitive place (conference room, private meeting, Bill Maher studio audience, or the ever-growing trend of speakeasies) where cell phones aren’t permitted. The people there could give you the No-Phone with a number on it that corresponds to the number they put on your phone when they take it at the door. They give your phone back when you leave.
End Note: That’s a few uses to prove this isn’t entirely a “useless” product although it is overpriced: $12 for the regular, $18 for the upgrade (and the company was overvalued at 165K.) People might spend 5 to 10 dollars on a point, but not $12 to $20. Plus, they already sold 3,100 units before Shark Tank, and most companies sell at least 10 times that much after appearing on the show. I would have made them an offer of 25,000 (what they wanted) for 45% which isn’t much for the sharks, and they probably could have made it back just off the first month of this appearing on the series.