Source: News Day
Guest Writer: Robert Tuttle
Inspired by the communicators seen on ‘Star Trek,’ two companies seek to beam up big sales.
Two tech companies have announced plans to boldly go where no wireless phone company has gone before, with the release next month of a mobile telephone that resembles the communicators featured on the popular 1960s television series “Star Trek.”
With a black body and face plate, the new Star Trek Communicator Phones will, from the outside, strongly resemble the devices featured on the show, although they will be slightly smaller, said Marie Wiese, vice president of marketing for Sona Mobile, a mobile software company partnering with Viacom Consumer Products to sell the phones.
Flip them open, however, and they will look not much different from other flip cell phones, she said.
“I think it’s obviously a natural,” said Gary Berman, a Trekkie who grew up Fresh Meadows. “It’s interesting that tech is catching up with what we have seen in the ’60s.”
As co-chief executive of Creation Entertainment, Berman is the organizer of the Official Fourth Annual Star Trek Las Vegas Convention. Starting today, it is expected to attract upward of 12,000 fans, in addition to Sona and Viacom, he said.
The phones will be manufactured by an as-yet undisclosed company and, in the United States, will be serviced by an also undisclosed network administrator, Wiese said. She added it will cost an additional $10 per month for the phones and special features, including instant Star Trek community message boards and an interactive game called Fleetwars. A Trekkie will even be able to download any “Star Trek” episode in streaming video on demand.
Wiese said users will have to speak directly into the phones and not from a distance, as characters did in the television program did.
Initially, the two companies will be marketing the phones in North America and Britain, attempting to tap into a market of loyal “Star Trek” fans that is believed to number in the millions. A Star Trek Communicator replica recently sold on eBay for $682.
Berman of Creation Entertainment said Trekkies offer an attractive market for technology product developers. They are manic devotees of the program and tend to be tech savvy. What is more, she said, “They are wealthy. They are all the computer guys.”