WASHINGTON, Jan, 22, 2012 -- Apple and a small cellular company in Asia might just have hit upon the greatest marketing formula since they day we never knew we needed a non-cling sheet to dry our clothes: a high-tech, spanking new iPhone with no camera.
The Straits-Times of Singapore, sort of The Wall Street Journal of Asia, reports today that a company called M1, the smallest of Singapore's mobile phone companies, has started to sell 2-year contracts for iPhones with no cameras for the equivalent of about $US760.
OK, this seems pricey even in the upscale financial capital of Asia with its cosmopolitan mix of high end stores, big banks, and low crime, but the rationale seems to be a stroke of brilliance.
Apparently members of the security forces in Singapore are not prohibited from carrying their own cell phones to work, but are absolutely forbidden from having cameras or any other device with photo capability.
So, young soldiers or others who want the phone calls and text messages from family and friends, the sports, game, movie and other applications, have been shut out of the global iPhone boom.
Surfing the Web this morning there were already numerous sites from France, Indonesia, and elsewhere providing modifications to iPhones that will remove camera capabilities, or even order phones for you through M1.
Whether the Singapore configuration will be compatible with your own mobile carrier is beyond my area of knowledge, so go find a bright 14-year-old to set up the phone for you.
The phone being sold is the 64 GB iPhone 4S model. The newspaper reported that indeed the catalyst for the product was the fact that Singapore Armed Forces members are forbidden from bringing camera phones into military installations.
My guess is that the late Steve Jobs is smiling in the doorway of his cyber store in the Great Beyond, and I also guess that he had a hand in planning the roll-out of this new lower-tech Apple device.
Think about the hundreds of thousands of contract workers, soldiers, military personnel, private security employees and others around the world who are not motivated to spend the money on an iPhone or not allowed to buy one now have an option.
And Think about these other marketing opportunities:
Of course I suspect the greatest unforeseen consequence of the camera-free iPhone will be the pride of folks with no families, or families with no grandkids who finally can deal with the inevitable assaults from kind strangers on trains, planes, and on the Lotto line:
"Oh, yes indeed, she is adorable. Oh, I'd love to show you all the photos of my (insert one: grandkid, dog, cat, hamster) but I bought this damned new phone that has no camera.
Resources: The Straits Times