A startup called Yondr is trying to sell concert venues on the idea of taking away their customers’ smartphones during shows. The company’s product is a bag that locks over the audience member’s phone, blocking it from being used unless taken to an “unlocking station.”
This idea is all kinds of wrong. As the reporter below describes, putting your phone into a bag will now make you obsess over the phone. Did it vibrate? If so, what was it? Guess what? Now I’m the distracted one, not the person who might have seen my phone’s display. And this happens to everyone else whose smartphone has been held hostage.
What if a desperate phone call comes in from the babysitter at home, but because my phone is kidnapped inside a Guantanamo-worthy hood I don’t hear/feel the call come in? Or what if I do but I can’t push the stoner metalheads out of the way to get to the “unlock station” in time to take the call? What if it’s a call to tell me my house is burning down? Can you say “lawsuit?”
Stunts like Yondr are simply another way for greedy concert companies like LiveNation to become even more controlling of their customers. Blocking smartphones with radio frequency technology brings the wrath of the FCC. I would imagine the FCC might weigh in on this smartphone hostage-taking the same way it now usurps the regulation of satellite dishes by homeowners associations.
Here’s some advice for venue owners: don’t be a dick. Smartphones are here to stay. Your customers now carry smartphones everywhere, including your venue. If they like the show, they will likely snap a photo or take a short video. Neither of these will either put you out of business nor drive other customers away.
Here’s some advice for artists: don’t be a dick. If your fans want to capture the moment, you’re doing something right. Consider this free advertising. On the other hand, if your concert experience is threatened by a shaky, blurry, poor-sounding smartphone then you need to go back to your day jobs.
Here’s some advice for fans: don’t be a dick. If someone is bothered by your selfie at the show, put your phone away.
Here’s some advice for investors in companies like Yondr: your investment has a better chance of paying off if you put it into lottery tickets.
The two bouncers at the Stork Club, a dive bar in Oakland, Calif., stopped me in front of a bin of smartphone cases. That night’s show was a phone-free affair, they told me. I had to place my iPhone 5S in one of the sleeves, which would lock as soon as I entered the club’s phone-free zone and stay locked until I left.
Made by spanking-new startup Yondr, the cases operate on the fundamental premise that smartphones can be “a distraction and a crutch” that distance us from our immediate surroundings. Yondr’s mission, according to its website, is “to show people how powerful a moment can be when we aren’t focused on documenting or broadcasting it.
“Yondr is among the first companies to cater to the “unplugging” movement. If you haven’t already been asked to stow away your gadgets, you soon could be.