Friday, September 12, 2008

Verizon Goes After Blue Collar Cell Phones

When you think of somebody wearing a hard hat using a cell phone, what kind of phone do you suppose it is? The blue collar cell phone field has been pretty much locked up by Nextel, with its revolutionary push-to-talk walkie-talkie service and its ruggedized cell phones. But now Verizon is moving into that territory. You may have seen the ads on TV - The guy with his feet trapped in cement trying to no avail to raise help on his cell phone. So what makes Verizon think they can capture the rugged communications share of the market?

Verizon really has a one-two punch in this regard. They are benefiting from the fact that they are already a much bigger company than Nextel, with a huge customer base and wide selection of phones from entry level to high end smartphones. But what they've added is PTT (push to talk) communications capability and tougher phones.

PTT is a mode of communications where you push a button to talk and release it to listen. Traditional telephone operation has been what's called full duplex. That means you talk and listen at the same time. But two-way radios, including walkie-talkies, have always been half duplex. Only one person gets to talk at a time. That's especially useful when you want to get your message thorough quickly and you don't need to say very much. "Bring me another piece of 4 inch pipe." That's an example of a PTT message.

PTT has the advantage that as soon as you designate your recipient and push the talk button your voice comes out of the other phone. No dialing a long number and then waiting for someone to pickup. Plus, push to talk can let you speak to several different people on several different phones at the same time. It's called "group calling." PTT is an inexpensive add-on service to your Verizon Wireless service plan. But you need a phone that will work in this mode.

The Casio GzOne Boulder line of phones meets the requirements for PTT capability on the Verizon Wireless network. It's also the kind of phone that can take some abuse and not wimp out. The boulder has a waterproof shell and meets military standards for shock, dust, heat and vibration. If you want to make sure you don't lose your phone accidentally on the worksite, pick the orange model. No one is going to mistake an orange phone for a stray chuck of concrete.

As the name Boulder suggests, this phone is also targeted at outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to its general toughness, the GzOne comes with a built-in electronic compass and GPS for navigation. There's a Megapixel digital camera that runs in video capture mode in case you actually spot the REAL Bigfoot in your adventures. Other niceties include on-demand TV and music, Bluetooth wireless, and cellular broadband. Memory is upgradeable to 8GB for plenty of storage capability.

Yes, the GzOne Boulder line does come in black as well as orange. There's also a Motorola Adventure V750 in silver for a more traditional look in a ruggedized phone.

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