Extreme Reflections

Iridium launched their new “Extreme” satellite phone and associated products last week. While the new phone looks good and its tracking features are welcome, the event left me vaguely dissatisfied. Thinking about the reasons, I came up with three:

  • Putting an SOS button on the phone and claiming SEND compliance seems more like a marketing ploy rather than a useful feature. If I’m in trouble and I have a phone, I’ll dial 000 (or 911 in the USA). The SEND standard was never meant for phones, but rather for devices like the SPOT and its successors.
  • The Iridium Axcess Point turns a Sat Phone’s 2400 Baud data into a WiFi hotspot, just so you can send an email from your smartphone. Why bother?
  • Iridium could have ¬†highlighted its partners who are bringing out products based on the 9602 module. These products, like the inReach are about to hit the market and give Iridium a great opportunity to be relevant to an entirely new audience.

Iridium announcements

As widely expected, Iridium announced its ruggedised phone, the 9575. Of real interest in the context of tracknSEND are its tracking, messaging and SOS (SEND) functions. Initial pricing looks “substantial” at around US$1500 for the phone plus a suitable plan. ¬†Apart from this “all-in-one” phone, Iridium is clearly keen to diversify its offerings together with partners such as DeLorme and Yellowbrick (and many others to come).