“We are a very conservative company, however we have developed something new, quite revolutionary really. In a word ROBUSTNESS. A robust handheld smart phone. You can drop it and it probably won’t break. No cracks on the screen.”
“So a smart phone with our new robustness and your new long-life battery technique could be a winner. Your idea of a limited-edition super phone in a single test market hits the balance of revolutionary design and pragmatic conservatism.”
It sounded great, we said yes, we signed a very limited test contract, we drank a round or three of soju.
And this is where Cheong came into the story. Liz and I had agreed to produce two thousand batteries in a company plant somewhere in South Korea. No, I can’t tell you where. And stay in South Korea for all the pre-launch testing, the launch, and two post-launch months.
We designed a better battery, mostly shape-wise, with help from Cheong and his colleagues. It was decided that the batteries would continue to use threaded rod, to use the name bolt, and be encased in clear plastic. Cheong configured the production machines. The first cut the threaded rod to the right length, the second bent the rod to shape, then came my special method.
The third machine tested the batteries and rejected duds. The success rate was surprisingly low, only 80%, but the cost was low and the failures could be recycled. The fourth machine encapsulated the batteries in clear plastic, snapped on the electrical connections, and mounted the finished batteries on banderolas for further testing and for insertion into the smart phones.
We discovered a lot about Korea, especially the food, with help from Cheong. I learnt a bit of Korean.
The wonderful new phone with the almost unbreakable screen and case was to be bright yellow with a bright red, removable holster (made of rubber to protect the case). And of course it had a revolutionary charge-less bolt battery guaranteed to last five years.
It was rugged, it was tough, it was chunky, it got the name Cheonkey, a word play on chunky. It was made only for the South Korea market. The production costs were high; however the quantity made was low, the screen and the case were new technology, and there was no need for a charger and cable (thanks to the new charge-less bolt battery).
First two weeks of advertising and then the launch day.