SINGAPORE--Your mobile phone goes flat while you are on the move...and you don't have a spare battery. Sound familiar?
Cell phone accessories maker Emporia Telecom (Asia) Pte Ltd, might just solve the problem--with a Korea-made device called "Yap," that charges mobile phone in public in a secure manner.
To utilize the device, the user first punches in a 4-digit number to set a security code. Then he or she slots in a S$1 coin (US$0.54) and places the mobile phone in a selected chamber, depending on the make and model of the phone.
Closing the charging chamber leaves it locked and it can only be re-opened with the four-digit security code punched in earlier, the Austria-headquartered company said.
$1 charges a phone for 20 minutes, giving at least six hours of standby time, which varies with the make and model of the phone, as well as the condition of the battery, said Emporia Asia general manager Tan Teck Soon.
According to Tan, most of the mobile phones in the market today can be charged on Yap. The make and models are as follows:
C35 S35 C25 S25 S2588 M35
3310/3330, 8210/8250/8850, 5110/6110/6150, 7110
GA628, GH688, GF768, GF788, SH868, SH888, T20, T28/T29, A2618, R310, R320, R380, T39, T65, A3618
A100, A100, A100S, A100C, SGH-600, SGH-2400, SGH-6000, N100, SGH-800, M100, A200, R220, N200
StarTAC, L7089, V3688, V3690, V8088 CD920 CD930
Presently, there are 25 such Yaps across the island and can only be found in Cheers convenience outlets, which are run by NTUC supermarkets.
By March 2002, the number of Yaps available in Singapore is expected to grow to 180, and by September 2002, the figure should increase to 720. By mid-2003, Tan expects Yap to be a lifestyle product, with approximately 2,000 units island wide.
In Singapore, Tan said that Emporia will market Yap to food and coffee joints, so that their patrons can utilize the service while they eat.
The revenue from the Yap machine will be shared between Emporia and its clients, Tan added. He did not disclose specifics about Emporia's deal with Cheers.
Tan expects each Yap unit to recover its cost within nine months of rollout, although he declined to reveal any revenue figures.
Some observers believe that achieving these targets may be an uphill task for Yap, as there are other players in the market providing the same service.
Nevertheless, Emporia is confident about its product.
"Unlike the other units available in town, Yap allow users to leave their phone secured without having to wait by the charging machine," Tan said.
"Those found in town require users to wait by the machine for the entire charging period, he noted.
Emporia also expects to penetrate the Malaysia market by the middle of next year, Tan noted, without elaborating. --Nawaz Marican, ZDNet Asia