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Monday, March 27, 2006

"Halal" Cell Service

I'm sure there isn't anyone reading this who hasn't heard of "kosher" cellphones, but this article covers some cellphones marketed to other religious denominations, such as Muslims and Christians. An interesting point that the piece makes is the difference between the kosher cellphones marketed to the ultra-orthodox market, and the phones marketed to other religious markets. The kosher cellphone is really just a cell service that is stripped of any extras that are increasingly standard on today's cellphones, such as internet service, whereas phones marketed to Mulims and Christians tend to add services:
Good News Holdings LLC, in partnership with Barna Group Ltd., a Ventura, Calif.-based provider of Christian data, recently launched FaithMobile, a cellphone service that offers scriptures, Christian ring tones, and one-minute-long inspirational videos to subscribers who sign up on its Web site. The service's advertising slogan: "Have you talked to God today?" It is available in the U.S. on T-Mobile, Alltel and Cingular, selling for an additional $5.99 a month.

Good News also is planning to launch a branded phone this summer in conjunction with six ministries across the country, which will provide subscribers sermons, news, movie reviews and other content. Good News originally thought of calling it the "godphone," but thought better of it and named it the FaithMobile phone instead.

Other projects planned by Good News include a service called e-prayer.com, which will allow users to ask others to send prayers either via the Web or, if they subscribe to FaithMobile, their cellphones. David Kirkpatrick, a former president of Paramount Pictures and one of Good News's founders, says the company's products make religion more convenient for people who occasionally don't have time for church. "In our busy lives, having access to spiritual resources on the go will help us all keep connected to God," he says.

And a new Christian text-messaging service called UCB Mobile was launched in the United Kingdom by United Christian Broadcasters Ltd. last year to enable people to stay connected to their faith by text messaging prayer requests to a UCB team, who will then pray for the sender.

For Muslims, businesses have come up with cellphones that help them in their daily prayer rituals. Dubai-based Ilkone Mobile Telecommunication in 2005 launched a phone in the Middle East with an internal compass that tells users the direction of Mecca, where Muslims face when they pray. Ilkone, which comes from the Arabic word for "universe," also equips its phones with a Hijri, the Gregorian calendar, and alerts users to prayer times with an alarm that features an actual muezzin's voice. It also has a complete version of the Quran, with an English translation. The phone, already on sale in Europe, recently became available in the U.S., where it can be purchased by contacting Indianapolis-based reseller Tradelink, Inc. (www.tradelink.us).

In England, Muslims have been using MyAdhan.com as a digital muezzin. The service provides them with calls to prayer five times a day in the form of a text message sent from cellular towers instead of vocal announcements from minarets.

How far down the road could cellphones with ringtones from "The Chevra" be? Or maybe cellphones with inspirational messages preloaded on the screen, like: "Step away from the internet enabled cellphone with your hands up", or "Don't even think of downloading that Top 40 ringtone". Any day now.

15 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

>"Step away from the internet enabled cellphone with your hands up", or "Don't even think of downloading that Top 40 ringtone". Any day now.

Tee hee.

12:10 AM  
Blogger aj said...

I remember seeing last year a service, for about 15cents a day, one could get a text message reminder to say Sefirat HaOmer each night ( I don't know if it was sent on Shabbat)

12:24 AM  
Anonymous jdub said...

the omer thing would be useful. I get an email from the OU. Really helps keep me on track.

9:06 AM  
Blogger almost_frei said...

how about the daily Shmeras Haloshon message each time you pickup or make a call? or just a picture of the Chafetz Chaim?

9:08 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Zemanim alarms would be a good idea. "warning! 20 minutes until sheqi‘a!"

10:02 AM  
Blogger SephardiLady said...

What a kosher cell phone needs is an automatic turn off for everyone entering shul, a shiur, or a levaya.

For crying out loud, turn off your cell phones people.

8:28 PM  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

OM: My hatzala (Israel, not 5T)Nextel Motorola phone has an emblem on it: "Vaadat HaRabanim for Communications - APPROVED"
(ie, internet access has been removed from it)

There are also plenty of phones in Israel with the "chevra" ringtones on it...

5:14 AM  
Anonymous Essie said...

What a kosher cell phone needs is an automatic turn off for everyone entering shul, a shiur, or a levaya.

SephardiLady, That would be awesome.

8:55 AM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

It should be possible to program a cell phone so that it automatically shuts off on Shabat an Yom Tov.

However, my wife is a physician and needs to use her cell phone on Shabat and Yom Tov when she is on call. Last Shabat she sent two people to the hospital.

If anyone has the info on the text message sefirat ha-omer, please post or send me an email. Thanks!

10:23 AM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

Would Muslim cell phones have to come with a detonate option to be truly "kosher"?

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Yehoshua Friedman said...

Zmanim and Hebrew date would be good. I have not bought the latest edition of the Jewish watch, feeling that this kind of thing is probably just around the corner. It is technically possible to do, but the constraints are economic, I guess.

11:31 AM  
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