The World According to Tim Green: Fleeced for your phone | Mobile Industry | Mobile Entertainment

The World According to Tim Green: Fleeced for your phone

The World According to Tim Green: Fleeced for your phone
Tim Green


Industry / November 29th 2012 at 2:00PM

A new coat designed to prevent theft of mobile phones could promote theft of coats.

Like most people working in the mobile space, I'm a hopeless neophile. Even though common sense and my nagging sense of environmental panic suggests I should be happy with the Lumia 920 I got just last week, I'm already obsessed with what the BB10 devices might be like.

So you can imagine my excitement when the news broke a few days ago that UK department store Debenhams is to stock a new coat, designed by C.VOX (Communiqué Vox), that lets you plug, play and conceal your mobile phone.

It features a washable speaker – washable speaker! – microphone and control system on the sleeve so you can skip, pause and play music as well as answer and hang up calls. Meanwhile earphones are wired through the jacket and concealed in the collar.

Here's the big idea: no one likes talking to strangers/colleagues/shop workers, and we'd all rather be plugged into our own aural worlds than listen to traffic noise and the pleas for help of a nearly fallen pensioner.

So we wedge in those headphones instead.

Trouble is, while they send a 'do not approach' message to lost tourists, they do the precise opposite to criminals. Oh, they do like an iPhone, those representatives of the mugging community.

In fact, Debenhams quoted figures that said street thefts of phones has risen by 25 per cent in three years.

Hence this mobile-concealing coat.

But I'm not convinced. The obvious next step for thieves is to turn their attention from mobiles to coats. This is bad news for victims, because when we get mugged we'll not only be without our phones, but we'll also be chilly.

In time, the whole situation might start to resemble the mobile world. C.VOX says it's developing new lines with better tech, so maybe muggers will get more discerning.

Next year they could well be turning up their collective noses at the 2012 version of the C.VOX coat with its old firmware and lack of an external memory slot.

Maybe we'll get the ridiculous situation in which kids wear crappy old coats when they're out to deter muggers, and only use their new top-of-the-range coats when their indoors second screening. They might get hot, but at least they'll be safe.

Or maybe we'll see cheap mass market coats being developed by the new breed of aggressive Chinese coat manufacturers using open source fabrics.

And how about an ad-funded coat for users who aren't prepared to pay upfront? Sure, the coat would ask for your location whenever you put it on, and you might find a cookie in the inside pocket, but that's the contract you make when you choose freemium apparel, right?

Will the C.VOX catch on? I don't know. But I am sure of one thing. This is a seasonal purchase. Wear one on the beach and it will be immediately clear to nearby sun-worshipping muggers than either you have some hardware working nicking or that you are a massive idiot.