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Tuesday, 11 December, 2001, 14:59 GMT
Dinosaurs enter mobile age
 Jurassic Park
There have been three cinematic trips to Jurassic Park
By Peter Bowes in Los Angeles

Five months after Jurassic Park III roared into US cinemas, the film's video and DVD release is being tied in with the launch of the world's first voice-activated, disposable mobile phone.


I would expect it's going to be very popular in glove compartments of cars and in ladies' handbags

Dave Wilson, LA Times
Universal Studios Home Video and the California-based company Hop-On have teamed up for the unusual cross-promotion.

When the video and DVD is released in the US on Tuesday, thousands of people will also receive a voucher for the new Hop-On phone, which is not yet on the market.

"In Jurassic Park III, the saviour for the entire movie was the phone," said Ken Graffeo of Universal.

'Key thing'

Since a mobile phone played such a crucial role in the film's story-line, the studio was keen to enter into a promotional partnership with the new Hop-On, he said.


We think that the target markets ultimately are going to boil down to the teen-type market

David Pasquale, Hop-On
"We will be the first ones to come out with the disposable phones and after we have it, it will be released at retail so people can buy it," said Mr Graffeo.

"A key thing is that because it is the first of its kind, from a technology stand point, it really does fit with the film itself, with the technology we used for the motion picture."

The tiny mobiles are voice-activated and work anywhere in the United States. They are also disposable.

Users simply press the 'call' button and say the number they want to be connected to. An automated voice-activated operator then verifies the number and places the call.

Basic

During the period of the joint promotion, users will hear a special Jurassic Park greeting, "Welcome to Jurassic Park," when they use the phone.

Jurassic Park III
Spielberg directed the first two Jurassic films
The phone is very basic - it is not capable of text messaging and cannot receive calls since it does not have a number.

The Hop-On will go on sale later this month for $29.95 (21) and include 60 minutes of talking time. When the minutes are all used up the phone can be thrown away.

There is an incentive to recycle the phone, by returning it to Hop-On, with a $5 discount on the purchase of another one.

David Pasquale, a spokesman for Hop-On said: "We think that the target markets ultimately are going to boil down to the teen type market.

"There's going to be a glove box audience as well - with senior citizens and those who just want an emergency phone but don't want to pay or have the commitment of monthly fees.

"There's also going to be international and business travellers who like to have a back-up phone."

'Pretty cool'

The company is hoping to market the phone overseas within the next year either through international partnerships or by licencing its technology abroad.

Sam Neill
There is never a pay phone when you need one
Visitors to the Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios, Hollywood were mostly enthusiastic about the new phone.

One said: "I think it's pretty cool for people that don't use their phone all the time, but if you use the phone a lot I think it would be more expensive."

Another added: "It's sort of like a disposable camera, I like that idea."

In the weeks following the 11 September terrorist attacks, senior US government officials have criticised the planned launch of disposable phones as a possible security threat.

Attorney General John Ashcroft has suggested that the availability of cheap, anonymous phones may make it easier for terrorists to communicate with each other.

'Yanking out'

The notion has been dismissed by both Hop-On and technology experts who point to the availability of phone cards and public phones as equally anonymous modes of communication.

Dave Wilson, technology writer with the Los Angeles Times said: "You could say the same about pay phones, and we're not yanking out all the pay phones in this country."

He added that he expected the new mobiles to be a success despite their inability to receive incoming calls.

"It's a pretty severe restriction, but that aside I would expect it's going to be very popular in glove compartments of cars and in ladies' handbags," he said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Peter Bowes in Los Angeles
"It's a promotional gimmick"
See also:

31 Jul 01 | Reviews
Jurassic Park III lacks bite
25 Jul 01 | Reviews
Jurassic Park III: Press views
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