2006 Holiday Pre-Preview
Wherify has been trying for a long time to make it big time with its tiny, simple, GPS-enabled phones.
Like Jitterbug, Wherify is finally ready to launch. Their kid-oriented Wherifone will go on sale early next month at Toys-R-Us and Amazon.com.
The concept is simple. It's tiny. Kids can use it; parents can control it. It stores 20 numbers, which are programmed remotely. The plans are simple and affordable: slightly cheaper than service for an LG Migo from Verizon Wireless.
One of its biggest selling points is the location feature. It has a GPS receiver, which basically lets parents check up on their kid's location at any time. From a PC, the parent can see the location on a detailed map. From a phone, a simple SMS query will return an approximate street address. A service for parents to view location maps on their phones is also planned.
The GPS feature uses a SiRFstarIII chip, one of the newest and most accurate GPS chips available. This is upgraded from earlier prototypes that used a SiRFstarII chip.
Wherify is operating as their own MVNO to offer service for Wherifones, in order to make it a simple standalone service. In order to find a carrier partner willing to offer them good data rates for their unique GPS service, they turned to a little-known regional carrier called Petrocom. Petrocom offers service mostly off the southern coast for oil rigs, but also has a roaming agreement with Cingular, which Wherify is able to use to offer national coverage.