Editorial: We Called Zer01 Mobile a Mile Away, Our Gadget Won’t Do That

There has been a buzz in the media lately as the gleaming praise for Zer01 Mobile turned to anger and betrayal. And, that makes sense. The Zer01 Mobile offering provided the Phantom-sized Holy Grail of unlimited 3G voice and data service for $69.99/month.

The first harsh reality is that, this simply is not a good deal anymore. Sprint’s Boost Mobile now offers its $50 unlimited data and voice plan on their CDMA 3G network. And, many are finding that they can activate any Sprint CDMA phone with relative ease… simply needing to scour up a Boost CDMA phone first. While that isn’t as easy as dropping a SIM card into a Zer01 Mobile phone… it would save you $240/year over Zer01 Mobile’s non-existent service.

That’s the other problem. From Laptop Magazine’s rescinding of their CTIA Best-of-Show award, to numerous bloggers feeling bad about all the hype and praise… we saw this one coming, and that’s why we haven’t talked about Zer01 in-between.

And, like many vaporware startups, Zer01 Mobile is now threatening reporters with legal action. We’re not amused. We’d rather focus on asking tough questions.

I would note that we did, in private, act as good journalists, and rolled out the red carpet for Zer01 Mobile to put up or shut up. Lets just say our inboxes never filled with any demo units.

I didn’t write this editorial to bury Zer01 Mobile. That’s already a done thing… barring any surreal distribution snag holding back a stellar (and now overpriced) service. I wrote this because MechaWorks has announced it’s in the gadget-building business. We’re building something cool, and we’re going to announce it next month.

This is instead an article about a task we already decided to take on, and that’s being absolutely open about where we stand. What we’re going to announce, well, it’s big. It’s not something you can chew up and ship out the door. It’s going to be an industry-wide effort (and I didn’t say the mobile industry). The most important thing in keeping confidence about your product is not failing to meet expectations.

We absolutely will not come out of the gates promising to ship something on a date certain. Instead, we’re going to share with you exactly where things stand. If we hit a snag, we’re going to be up front and tell you we hit a snag. That’s not to mean we’re moving at a slow pace, or that we’ll slow down… we’re going to stay realistic. Maybe, just maybe, if Zer01 Mobile had stayed realistic, it would have been the game changer that it aimed to be. And, maybe, we’d all be placeshifting videogames like OnLive, Phantom, and others promised.

Christopher Price is the Founding Editor of PhoneNews.com. Today, he leads the team building Console, Inc. - a new kind of Android™ device. He still likes to pontificate... a lot. You can visit his personal blog at ChristopherPrice.net.

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30 responses to “Editorial: We Called Zer01 Mobile a Mile Away, Our Gadget Won’t Do That”

  1. Allon

    Thank you Christopher. I am a wireless industry insider and when my dad was contacted by Zer01’s reseller I was skeptical and annoyed. I have friends who own wireless retail stores and I work for a large wireless infrastructure manufacturer – what makes these idiots try to scam my dad by throwing false data at him: “Zer01 spent $14 billion (with a B) on a fiber optic” “It’s been used by the US government” and of course “you can make $29,000 a month”!
    I am happy to report that he did not invest anything, but I see people that already have and it’s a shame. Anything that needs to be peddled by multi-level-marketing (MLM) is a pyramid scheme – you’re better off giving your money to Bernie Madoff. Please someone in government but these guys behind bars!

  2. seeyouatthetop

    Wow what great insite from an indutry insider. You tell me what costs more to build brick and mortor stores or to internet market your product?? Oh yes I like the way corp biz is done now adays. All the Ceo’s and other managers get all the huge bonues for What the hard work the little employees do. I would much prefer to all work as a team everyones betterment. Sorry you do not understand many of the best products come to use tru direct marketing. Good luck working for the MAN Allon.

  3. Christopher Price

    Tsk, tsk. Folks, I should point out that, like in past articles, Zer01 Mobile employees have been proven to troll message boards and news sites that talk negatively about their service.

    I don’t know if it’s a coffee break for them, or half their existence. Maybe all of their existence at this point.

    The real point is that commenters like the one above will deny until the next eon that they work for Zer01 Mobile. Ignore them.

  4. AJ Stallings

    Come on, you are blaming Zer01 for something a sales rep for a distributor said. So, I guess when a sales rep for a Sprint or Verizon reseller makes a false statement we should hold corporate Verizon or Sprint to task and call them liars. Give me a break! Form all of the press release I have seen Zer01 never stated that they purchased spectrum or frequencies of any kind. I have only seen quotes from Globalverge memebers as to that outlandish claim. Zer01 announced it terminated Buzzirk Mobile and you are still associating these companies as one. Sounds like a witch hunt to me. Also, in one article I noticed a quote form a very respected person. I believe his name was Jon Zanner from Net Movies. He stated he has seen the phones work. Oh by the way Net Movies is partly owned by Blockbuster. I guess next you will start calling blockbuster a scam too. So, how can you say this is a non-exsistent offering. The only other negative I have seen since the termination announcement on Thursday or Friday was Nancy Gohring form IDG. Are you guys related?

  5. Allon

    I will not comment on the MAN reply. I hope “seeyouatthetop” that you did not sell this scam to your friends or family and that you are not too deep in the hole. And don’t pretend to know what you are talking about brick-and-mortar store and the cost components – all US carriers, even those that Zer01 claims to work with sell directly to consumers via websites: http://www.wireless.att.com & http://www.t-mobile.com/shop.aspx. The stores are there for a reason – sales and customer care (which I think could more professional, but that’s another topic) to service problems which are increasing due to the increase in phone complexity – smartphones in particular.
    I get my well deserved (but very average bonus) because I busted my ass to get into an ivy league school, my masters and my phd. My money is not made on the backs of miss-informed Americans – but rather in tough negotiations with very smart people.

  6. Tyler

    Allon, I guess you don’t mind the investors and execs making money ‘on your back’. What a tool. You’re in a corporate pyramid where you bust your ass and the guys at the top make the huge bonuses. Too bad your ivy league education only taught you how to be an employee.

    And no, I have nothing to do with Zero1. I was approached by it and called the guy on every bs claim they made. There are legit mlm out there but Zero1/GlobalVerge/Buzzirk was NOT one of them.

  7. Allon

    Tyler, you bet that I mind, I am on the front lines of the movement to get ethics back into American business. Ethics that have been tarnished for a very long time. I am not defending the MAN or Fortune 500 companies. I am not only an employee but actually own 2 of my own businesses (as an investor). What gets me here is that people who admittedly are in MLM for over 20 years (the ones who pitched me) are pushing a Zer01 product through outright lies – this is no different than Eneron or MCI-Worldcomm.

  8. Glenn Fleishman

    “Factoid for those that don’t work at Zer01: Nancy Gohring is the news service editor for Laptop Magazine that made the call to rescind Zer01 Mobile’s “best of show award”… hence the utter hatred by anyone at Zer01 Mobile”

    Nancy is an IDG News Service reporter; IDG has no connection with Laptop magazine, which separately awarded and revoked Zer01’s best in show award.

    Nancy (a friend of mine) has written several stories for IDG about Zer01 based on the claims that Zer01 made, and by exhaustively following up each claim, speaking to parties that would be involved or had knowledge, and reporting on that. For instance, Zer01 claims to have national GSM coverage through partners, but AT&T and T-Mobile both told Nancy on the record that they have no such agreement.

  9. frank

    (Glenn Fleishman on August 15th, 2009, 8:38 pm) said

    “but AT&T and T-Mobile both told Nancy on the record that they have no such agreement.”

    T-mobile said “no comment”

  10. Mark Richards

    Hello Chris,

    Can’t blame you for the article, but just wanted to post a very valid response here (I hope) for all to see.

    I will simply say that in order to find the truth, you must look at what a bad sales organization has said Vs what a brilliant technology company has said before you analyze any claims.

    Every false and outlandish claim that I have read has come from Buzzirk or Global Verge – Not Zer01.

    One subtle thing that everyone seems hung up on Chris, is that it is absolutely certain that billions of dollars has been spent on the network partners that Zer01 uses. The subtle part is that is was NOT money spent by Zer01 but it’s network providers. Please show me where Zer01 claimed that THEY spent the money. This will become public knowledge shortly and for good reason has not to this point.

    The product is as revolutionary as it was first stated – and I agree with you that putting a hard date on a complex technology release has historically hurt better and more capable companies than Zer01.

    However, I am extremely confident that the final conclusion will surface shortly – and that the end result will be the sum of many moving parts of a technology game changer and cause quantum leap in the social communicatiin behavioral patterns of the consumer.

    The product is a jigsaw of many intricate pieces – and the reason why the press has not seen REAL proof – is that the jigsaw puzzle is a Mona Lisa – and the final pieces took time.. You cannot see the jigsaw – until it is done, but when it is – you will definitely see that she has a smile.

    Who am I ?

    How do I KNOW this ?

    I am the Chief Information Officer for Pervaisp – and our subsidiary VoX is the VoIP network partner for Zer01.

    I have seen and used the Mona Lisa – and it absolutely made me smile.

    This is a great country – and we all cherish the freedom of speech.

    Tolerance and compassion for others, is slowly being lost in the world, and this is indeed a shame.

    One must be cognizant of all claims not born out of fact these days – The Internet – is forever….

    Mark Richards

    Chief Information Officer
    VoX Communications
    A Pervasip Company (OTCBB:PVSP)

  11. Bob

    I am curious, who or what is “Our Gadget”

  12. celz

    its not gonna happen.. period.. voip on an american gsm network is laughable.. sprint and vzw could barely pull that off and their networks are years ahead of any gsm in the states.. sounds like the gizmondo debacle if you ask me

  13. Mark Richards

    Sometimes…. just sometimes…the ‘evidence’ can be wrong, and there can be a simple explanation that is difficult to share.

    Keep watching and let’s all keep an open mind – either way.



  14. Christopher Price

    That’s ridiculous. People’s livihoods are on the line here. Buzzirk Mobile was asking poor, destitute people to pony up their last dollars to become salesmen in what is clearly a pyramid scheme.

    So, no, we will not wait ad infinitum for “difficult to share” explanations.

    It’s way past time to put up or shut up. I suspect Zer01 Mobile is shutting up, because they realize that charges and arrest are now a clear option.

  15. Glenn Fleishman

    Frank: “T-mobile said “no comment””

    No, they told Nancy they had no agreement. Go read her original story. They told everyone else no comment, for whatever reason. If T-Mobile had told Nancy no comment, and she had reported it otherwise, T-Mobile would have put out the word that they hadn’t commented, or Nancy would have been fired or some such.

  16. Guillermo Sandoval

    Just my two cents: MLM is not a pyramid scheme just look at Herbalife, Mary Kay and Avon. If done correctly, it can be a good way for people to make money online. I was hopefull Global Verge would be able to deliver and unfortunately they did not. It’s companies like GV that put a black eye on the face of MLM. They clearly did not have all the agreements in place or a product they could deliver at the time of launch.

    I got an e-mail from GV stating they would be launching their own cell phone program. Here’s what they said:

    “Because of the relationships that Buzzirk Mobile has with a multitude of providers of many technologies, we will be able to very quickly roll out a mobile phone product that will have many of the same features that you have been expecting; unlimited voice, unlimited data, unlimited web access, etc. Plus our new products will have additional state of the art services that we are sure you will be thrilled about. Also, some of the aspects that so many of you were concerned about with our previous product (e.g. family plan and customer support) will be available with our new product. Our desire is do this at a similar price point and with great commissions, which we will detail shortly for you. ”

    My guess this is an attempt to keep the existing affiliates from revolting and suing. I doubt they will be able to roll out their own mobile product and be competitive in the cell phone arena.

  17. _Arthur

    My understanding is that T-Mobile told Nancy G. they had no agreement, and told another reporter No Comment.

    Most carriers are happy to announce their partnerships in joint press releases.

    Zer01 claims of Non Disclosure Agreements and “proprietary technology” are wearing thin.
    Have they announced any new deadline for their “revolutionary product” to materialize ?

  18. Ike D

    “We’d rather focus on asking tough questions (as journalists) ?” Are you a comedian or a journalist? The nail has been in the coffin of Zer01/Buzzirk mobile for a while now. You’re kicking a dead horse here. Isn’t the game of journalism called “news” not “olds”? Your article is after the fact as is anything Laptop Magazine wrote. Thank Nancy Gohring from IDG for doing the real work as the first real piece of journalism written about Zer01 rather then some glossed up puff piece.

    Don’t pat yourselves too hard on the back congratulations on taking the “big bad scammer guy ” Zer01 down when two thirds of the members of Howard Forums who commented on Zer01 had more journalistic skepticism then most of the wireless/personal technology press did.

    It’s the job of a true, good journalist to take down guys like this.Remember a thing called Watergate? Oh , I guess not. That was when journalists actually had something to put their word on called paper.

    Join in beating down Zer01. But face it, it is old and it is over.
    Let’s move on shall we?

  19. Bigwez

    Wow you guy amaze me. Yall do all this journalism work and fail to see the truth. Sometimes the story is not clear and/or the message is cloudy. In the article that Piilani had with a one on one reporter he stated that he developed this technology, that UTGI had an agreement with GV to be the exclusive MLM distributor for this product. Yall speak like MLM companies are some wicked pyamids schemes that are unsuccessful. I guess nobody has ever heard of AMWAY. GV is not at fault for the information their distributors shared with the public. It came from Zero1, which is UTGI mobile division. Sure alot of people jumped the gun with the information, but how can you blame a person for wanting to get in on a wave at the inception rather than when the wave has taken form.
    It’s a shame that some people have to see things in order to believe them, when people of faith and wisdom believe things in order to see them. It’s all about a person’s mindset and if you don’t believe then you can’t achieve.

  20. celz

    all of you pyramids guys need to find a new ship this one is sinking.. a true mlm business doesnt need to be mlm to be viable.. think avon, amway.. companies that actually have a tangible product or service.. if you sell more memberships than product you cant sustain the business..

  21. Allon

    Ike D – this is current NEWS. It was less than a month ago that a Global Verge (or Buzzirk) sales person tried to sell my family on this fraudulent product. As long as Zer01 Mobile is not delivering a $70/month all-you-can eat high-speed wireless service and is still peddling it through a MLM company with many (hundreds maybe thousands) websites only to suck money from unassuming American with get-rich-quick promises this HORSE is not dead and the media should keep on kicking it. Thank you Christopher for keeping this issue alive. The horse will only die (and it will become OLD not NEWS) is when Zer01 mobile delivers a product or completely ceases and desists (returning all money).

    I have no problem with legitimate MLM’s (Amway, Avon, Mary Kay).

    Mark Richards – I agree with his statement that this is a great country. Reading an “interview” he gave to his own PR which can be read here: http://www.voxcorp.net/about/news/archive/2009/03/31/1.shtml
    It scares me to think that when “asked” by the “interviewer”:
    There seems to be serious doubts surrounding whether VoIP is even possible over the GSM network and if it is, why the larger carriers aren’t doing it?
    Part of his answer: “There are a lot of brain cycles in both the Zer01 and VoX camps. The people that say something can’t be done are the ones that won’t do it. Where there is a will, the human race will find a way, and we have.”
    How (I ask)? Give specifics, philosophy does not answer specific technological questions. Ben P is not bringing his own water – if he built his own network he would bring his own water – like legitimate companies: see MetroPCS & Cricket. (www.metropcs.com & http://www.mycricket.com)

  22. Len Clements

    There are over 2,000 MLM companies in the U.S., which is one of 80+ countries where it’s recognized as legal. MLM has existed for 73 years, and includes Shaklee, Avon, Mary Kay, Discovery Toys, Watkins, Tupperware, Pampered Chef (owned by Warren Buffett) and many other good corporate citizens. Those ignorant comments here suggesting all MLM operations are scams does a grave disservice to the 10 million distributors, 20,000 employees, hundreds of vendors, and thousands of investors associated with this industry.

    Having said that, and having done some extensive investigation into Global Verge (Buzzirk Mobile) and their previous incarnations (they were called e-Verge and BizBuzz back on ’06 when they promised technology they never delivered), I whole-heartedly agree this is one of those schemes MLM suffers a guilt by association with.

    Here’s a link to some archived podcasts with detailed commentary on this soap opera about a train wreck:


    Len Clements
    Founder & CEO
    MarketWave, Inc.

  23. cat 5

    I have friends who own wireless retail stores and I work for a large wireless infrastructure manufacturer – what makes these idiots try to scam my dad by throwing false data at him. As long as Zer01 Mobile is not delivering a $70/month all-you-can eat high-speed wireless service and is still peddling it through a MLM company with many (hundreds maybe thousands) websites only to suck money from unassuming Americans.

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