Advertising art directors Van Gould and Chris Sheldon created the NoPhone as a “cure for phone addiction.” They fully acknowledge that the product is a novelty item, calling the business “the largest fake phone company in the world.” The accolades are pouring in: CNET called the NoPhone the “most useless gift since the Pet Rock,” and PC Advisor called it “the most useless gadget of 2015.” Gould and Sheldon call themselves “genius idiots!”
Whether it's a joke or a serious “cure” for phone addiction, the guys tapped a nerve. They raised over $20K on Kickstarter to get the business rolling, and they're selling like hotcakes on Amazon. People are reacting to phone over-use and sending a message by giving their friends the NoPhone as a gag gift.
The “phone” itself is merely a black piece of plastic that looks and feels like an iPhone. The difference is, it does absolutely nothing. The more “advanced” NoPhone Selfie is the same piece of plastic with a small mirror on one side. In their own way, they are mocking the smart phone culture and challenging people to “stay connected with the real world.”
My Take on The NoPhone
My friends and family sometimes refer to me as the “Phone Nazi.” I own an iPhone, but I HATE what these devices have done to personal discourse. When I am out to dinner or at a bar and I see someone sitting at a table (with other people) with their face in their phone, I want to grab it from them, dip it in the guacamole, and scream “why don't you talk to your friends?!?!?!” If you want to look at your phone, do it in private. When you are out with people I find it incredibly rude if you unceremoniously stick your face in your phone. I won't allow it at my table and I have actually gotten up and left a group when this behavior starts. People may be on edge with me at first, because I am so vocal about my position, but once we start having a REAL conversation, they chill.
Selfies are another thing that wigs me out. I live in a tourist town and selfie sticks are ubiquitous. I constantly have to suppress the urge to take the selfie stick away and bash the stupid asses over the head with it! Seriously, as little as five years ago, people didn't feel compelled to take a selfie of themselves in every situation. They didn't feel the need to constantly post photos to (insert social media platform of choice here). People used to interact with one another in public places!
I could literally write for hours about idiots I've encountered and the stupid crap they do with their phones. Let's just say, in most cases, people are becoming more tuned in to their phones than they are to the people in front of them. If the NoPhone can shame someone into changing the ludicrous behavior or, in the case of the truly “addicted,” act as a placebo substitute to wean them from their electronic disconnect, then I say GO NOPHONE! If you feel compelled to post something to Facebook while you are out in public, do it like you'd do it at home: excuse yourself and go to the bathroom!
I freaking love this product and I know dozens of people who would benefit from being re-educated by its use. I am solidly IN, I'll take two dozen!
Will the Sharks Phone it in and Invest?
While the NoPhone is brilliant in both its tongue in cheek approach and its wry social commentary, it is still a novelty product. They will likely sell millions because everyone knows a few people who are completely ridiculous with their phones. Giving that person a NoPhone is a funny and subtle way of telling them to cut the crap.
Therein lies the problem with the Sharks. It's a one-hit-wonder, not a business. There aren't any other products on the horizon that could possibly build this business into something more than a novelty item. The pitch ought to be humorous and It could go on to be a big selling joke item or a great piece of advertising swag, but I don't think the Sharks will bite.