Verizon announces the Hub, the world’s first paralyzed smartphone

vzwhub.jpg

It’s been a good, long while since anyone has written a gadget blog post about a desktop phone, short of being in the crimson hue and classic shape of the 1966 Batphone. Still, Verizon’s Hub/One looks impressive: a widgeted phone that hooks up to your DSL line and allows you to do casual browsing, email and info grabbing through an attractive and wide touchscreen. Remote management of your apps and widgets is a touted feature, allowing you to change a calendar appointment from the office, or remotely delete an incriminating voicemail from a lover before the wife gets home.

Anyway, it looks good, if you can still get a throbber from a phone that sits on your desk and never moves… a paralyzed smartphone. Verizon’s claiming it’ll be $199 with a $35 a month fee, which makes that analogy particularly apt.

Verizon makes the Hub official [Crunchgear]

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18 Responses to Verizon announces the Hub, the world’s first paralyzed smartphone

  1. PLeblanc says:

    Hey Zuzu,

    I’m not disagreeing :) Personally, I set up a project gizmo account to see what I thought of over the top voip. (I liked it.)

    My real interest in this space is for my mom. retired, fixed income, not dirt poor but $35/month for a minimum PSTN connection is still a noticeable dent in her budget.

    Skype doesn’t quite do the job (the dedicated phones are too expensive). Gizmo didn’t do the job (too complex). Verizon’s Hub won’t do the job, just way too expensive for a landline replacement (hardware and service costs).

    But there is a sweet spot in all this, I can just feel it. A device that just works as a phone, using voip over the top, and at a reasonable price. It’s like taking the best features from each existing alternative and bundling them together.

    Then add in a router that combines quality of service on the voice calls and PBX/telephony features (like the love child of a Tomato router and an Asterisk server)… OK I’m dreaming, but isn’t it a beautiful dream? I’m just sad that it has to be a dream.

  2. Laslo Paniflex says:

    Get rid of the monthly fee and I’d buy one. I think it’s a pretty sweet set-up. Especially for people who don’t turn on their computers before they go to work in the morning. That weather widget looks nice.

  3. NoahApples says:

    $35 monthly fee for what? I already, y’know, have the internet on a thing on my desk.

  4. zuzu says:

    I think I can safely say I know what you mean Pleblanc, and that’s why I mentioned T-Mobile’s UMA service, aka “Hotspot @Home” or “Talk Anywhere” (or whatever they’re calling it). For $10/month (which is the new line fee), they subsidize a Linksys router that acts as an analogue telephone adapter (ATA) that takes a SIM card and does the UMA/3GPP conversion, and then they recommend a DECT cordless phone to plug into that (mainly because the 1.9GHz won’t interfere with 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi the way 2.4GHz and 5GHz ISM phones can). It’s super simple, and $10/month vastly more affordable than $35/month.

    Verizon’s phone looks pretty, but as others have also mentioned, the pricing model is way out of proportion to the competition which has been around for years already.

  5. zuzu says:

    A device that just works as a phone, using voip over the top, and at a reasonable price. It’s like taking the best features from each existing alternative and bundling them together.

    Also, the DECT phones have been doing SIP and H.323 for awhile, such as the Siemens Gigaset series of phones.

  6. PLeblanc says:

    Finally looking up the T-Mobile @Home service, and from the service page:

    ————————————-
    Here’s what you need to get started:

    • A mobile line of service with a qualifying nationwide plan, priced at $39.99 or higher

    ————————————-

    Oh well.

  7. PLeblanc says:

    Zuzu,

    Don’t get me wrong, if T-Mobile made that a service without the wireless subscription at $10/month then we are talking about a service I want. (it is a differentiator for t-mobile, but I don’t know that many people willing to switch and then be locked in to a wireless provider for their wireline service… and T-Mobile isn’t that great here. YMMV.)

    The problem is that the wireless guys see this as an attempt to go over the top. Add the monthly fee to what they already are charging. (Verizon is doing the same).

    The pure over the top guys don’t seem to be bundling this straightforward service to the mass market (…and it isn’t easy. I do recognize that. wire, provider, qos, home wiring, there are a lot of challenges)

    I want a service that does phone without the wireless carrier link. (because I want to be able to churn.)

    Put the IP< ->PSTN into a bundle for fixed phone service that is VOIP over the top. Then add some of the already available services, like tomato and asterisk give. Make it a landline alternative, and sell it for pennies (OK, maybe a little more) and make it simple, and you have me as a customer.

    Don’t make my mom worry about wireless churn to have a stable phone service, and she may just sign on.

    Make it *really* simple and you have my mom for life.

    Know what I mean?

  8. zuzu says:

    As far as I can tell, T-Mobile’s $10/month UMA/GAN service doesn’t require you to have an existing mobile service with them.

    Also, because UMA/GAN is VoIP, T-Mobile’s wireless signal strength in your particular region is a non-issue.

    I think your mom would be happy with it.

  9. dimmer says:

    “Especially for people who don’t turn on their computers before they go to work in the morning.”

    I may have spent too much time on boingboing but isn’t that a very small number of people?

  10. dimmer says:

    “Especially for people who don’t turn on their computers before they go to work in the morning.”

    I may have spent too much time on boingboing but isn’t that a very small number of people?

  11. AirPillo says:

    … I think someone at Verizon was busy shooting up heroin in the bathroom during their lectures at business school.

    Why on god’s earth would any imbecile introduce a new product, and then deliberately cripple its chances of even breaking even as a concept by chaining it to a horrifyingly obviously bad pricing model?

  12. zuzu says:

    Wait, who ever turns their computer(s) off in the first place? Seriously.

  13. Agies says:

    I was sort of excited by this phone until I saw the service fee. As it’s nothing some clever hardware and a couple of web apps couldn’t do I see no justification in charging for it.

  14. zuzu says:

    Verizon’s answer to SIP / H.323 and UMA / GAN? Good luck.

  15. PLeblanc says:

    I’m not saying I’m numero uno fan, but I think you guys are missing a big part of what this thing does.

    It is a phone service that rides over the top at $35/month. it is NOT a DSL specific device. It hooks to any broadband connection and provides a voice service (via voip). So bring your comcast connection, and it works too.

    …then on top of that it does some common data widget functions.

    So it is like vonage with some spiffed up widgety stuff, but hopefully with a better attention to detail on call/voice quality than other voip products.

    The monthly fee is (I presume) to be about the IP to PSTN connection mostly.

    Think of this as another voip play that bundles some gadgets and home whiz-bang. You still may not like $35/month (I know I think it should be half that at most) but it isn’t just a widget interface with a monthly fee.

    (and the AT&T thing is called the ‘home manager’, google that for a lot more info. It is pretty neat, a Samsung device, but I think it is tied to the AT&T footprint… be that good or bad)

  16. zuzu says:

    @7 Pleblanc

    You still may not like $35/month (I know I think it should be half that at most) but it isn’t just a widget interface with a monthly fee.

    Hence my previous post, when T-Mobile offers dead-simple UMA for $10/month, and a fiercely competitive SIP market for even less (with more technical know-how required, such as understanding what STUN and ENUM are), I mean this, good luck!

  17. Clay says:

    Is this the final form of the OpenFrame?

    Heh, I wonder if they read my blog post and design experiment about it a year ago.

  18. MrC says:

    My local AT&T store had something almost identical to this, but I can’t find it on their website to compare now.

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