Last month, our own Derek Kerton wrote a long post detailing many of the questions raised
by the overhyped mobile service startup Zer01, which appeared to be making a bunch of claims that it couldn't live up to (some of which were impossible) and failed to substantiate a bunch of other claims. Oh, on top of that, Nancy Gohring uncovered that it was involved in a sketchy multi-level marketing scheme
run by a guy who is currently on probation after pleading guilty to securities fraud, and who's been known to have run similar sketchy MLM schemes. The whole thing was incredibly questionable (though, there were a few true believers -- i.e., people who'd already dumped a lot of money into the scheme) who continued to insist it was real. The one
bit of support those folks seemed to have was that LAPTOP Magazine -- a well-known and well-trusted tech publication, had given Zer01 a "Best of CTIA" award. Except... that's now gone. Last week, LAPTOP rescinded the award for the first time in its history
, noting not just the ethical questions raised by others, but the fact that the company did not live up to much of what it had promised the magazine. That included a promise from Zer01's CEO right after the initial allegations came out that he would send them a phone to test by the following week. One of the big concerns is that no one has been able to actually test one of these phones. But the phone never showed up. LAPTOP concludes its retraction saying:
At this time we can only urge extreme caution to those interested in using or selling Zer01's service.
And, yet, the "true believers" (some might assume "suckers") continue to show up in our comments insisting that this magic phone service is almost here
. But exactly none
of them has responded to Derek's original call, to find someone who's actually used a phone, noted where the company's engineers are located, where its towers are, who the network provider is and what the supposed patents are. Until someone can actually answer all those questions, it's pretty difficult to assume there's anything at all here.