In late 2005, we were amused by the story of a Japanese company trying to launch a special mobile phone service, called Voce, for the rich and famous
in the US. The selling point had little to do with a fancy phone. You would get just a common RAZR. But, for a $1500 entry fee and $500/month (!?!) you would basically get unlimited calls, get a new phone each year and get a full-time concierge service. It's not difficult to recognize why this is a terrible idea. The people who could afford this sort of thing are probably smart enough to recognize they can simply buy themselves a new phone each year and sign up for an unlimited (or close to it) service from one of the big carriers. As for the concierge service, there are plenty of those around -- with most being a lot more established and trustworthy. Soon after launch, the company discovered that no one had signed up. So it dropped prices to a $1000 entry fee and $400/month. That didn't work either. So a year later, it dropped prices again
to $500 entry and $200/month. Stunningly, it turns out that the rich and famous are still smart enough to recognize that's not a very good deal either. Well, other than about 2,000 people who actually did sign up. That's really not enough customers to run a business like this, so the company has shut down completely
. Amusingly, the way the COO found out the company was shutting down was that his phone stopped working. As Engadget points out, you would think that the Chief Operating
Officer would know that the company's operations
were being shut down. Apparently not.