Column: Just blow it; ill-fated bPhone and PARKR app

HOW I BROKE THIS | EP. 4 | Blow Phone & PARKRCOLD OPEN V.O.: “You are receiving an automated voice call from an inmate at Buzzards Roost White Collar Penal Colony & Pickleball Resort. Press (1) to accept.”


INTRODUCTION V.O.: Ineptitude . . . Failure . . . Inanity . . . Stupidity . . . Murder . . . Murder . . . Murder! This is How I Broke This.


GUY RAZZ: I’m Guy Razz, host of How I Broke This. Not to be confused with that other podcast by that other guy, Guy Raz, called How I Built This. Welcome to my narrative journey about business ineptitude and the failed leaders who failed to learn from their failures. Listen as my guests reveal what led to their crushed entrepreneurial spirits — and hopefully, they reference a murder or two to boost my dismal ratings.

V.O.: Murder . . . Murder . . . Murder!

GUY: In this episode I talk with Alistair Giblet—

ALISTAIR GIBLET: What am I . . . a bunch of chicken bits? Giblay not Giblet, Guy. The ‘let’ sounds like ‘lay.’

GUY: Mr. Giblay is founder of two failed tech start-ups, the PARKR app and the Blow Phone. Currently, he’s an inmate at Buzzards Roost White Collar Penal Colony & Pickleball Resort. How’s penal life treating you, Mr. Giblay?

ALISTAIR: It’s brutal, Guy! Not only will my name forever be associated with the word “penal,” but the wait between pickleball matches is dehumanizingly long. There’s only one pickleball court here!

GUY: How many deaths did the Blow Phone cause?

ALISTAIR: Zero. Those people simply passed out for unnaturally long periods of time.

GUY: Drats. No deaths. How unfortunate for my podcast ratings. It wasn’t product negligence that led to your incarceration; instead, it was a seditious conspiracy charge stemming from Jan. 6, 2021, correct?

ALISTAIR: I had no idea an insurrection was underway. I thought I was simply in line for a Capitol tour.

GUY: You didn’t detect that something nefarious was in progress? Especially when that crazy guy dressed only in the bloody feathers of a freshly skinned Bald eagle asked you to film him licking Birkenstock boots left behind under Nancy Pelosi’s desk?

ALISTAIR: Had they been Sketchers, I doubt there would’ve been a national outcry.

GUY: Unfortunately for you, a video showing you blowing on your bPhone as you videotaped the so-called Birkenstock Boot Licker went viral.

ALISTAIR: I looked guilty as hell. I get it. On the brighter side, it was unintended free advertising for the Blow Phone. Our red model sold out immediately.

GUY: How did bPhone evolve?

ALISTAIR: Research revealed that iPhone users had become too lazy for touch-screen technology. Knowing that the simple act of blowing is far easier than exerting the immense energy necessary to operate a finger or thumb, we patented a blow-screen digitizer to replace the touch-screen digitizer. Customers also valued how blow screens are much more hygienic to use than touch screens, which are bacteria breeding grounds.

GUY: The bPhone soon rivaled iPhone. JUST BLOW IT became the most recognizable tagline in the digital device marketplace. Its success was quite a contrast to your first start-up, the short-lived PARKR app.

ALISTAIR: Short-lived? Guy, what is time really? On average, a cricket lives 90 days. To a cricket, three months is not short; it’s a lifetime.

GUY: PARKR lasted 90 days?

ALISTAIR: A lifetime. Yes.

GUY: Explain the app.

ALISTAIR: People downloaded PARKR to seek parallel parking assistance. Did you know that most people fear parallel parking?

GUY: You discovered a consumer need and delivered. Business 101.

ALISTAIR: Indeed. We launched in San Francisco.

GUY: PARKR failed because—

ALISTAIR: Our response time sucked since very few people applied for our parker job openings.

GUY: Probably due to widespread parallelophobia—

ALISTAIR: By the time a rare PARKR parker actually arrived to provide parallel parking assistance, the customer’s vehicle was either out of gas or the customer had been ticketed by police for blocking traffic. Our final customer was Canadian Garret Camp, who, having already waited an hour for a parker to arrive, thought to himself, “Why wait so long for someone to park my car when all I really need to do is develop an app that sends a car and driver to pick me up?” Eureka! Uber was born. Goodbye, PARKR app.

GUY: Still, you bounced back with bPhone. That is, until the New York Times ran an exposé about bPhone users hyperventilating and fainting from extreme puffing while using their phones. Mainly, the story focused on Wordle players dropping like flies. 

ALISTAIR: Guy, The Times owns Wordle. Classic case of biased journalism.

GUY: But you can’t deny that Wordle does entail excessive exhaling via the bPhone. Players suffered concussions from fainting and then falling off toilet seats they had been sitting on while solving the daily Wordle.

ALISTAIR: The prosecution failed to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Our lawyers argued that excessive straining, not blowing, likely caused people to free fall from their porcelain perches. I was acquitted.

GUY: But bPhone sales flatlined.

ALISTAIR: Hey, Guy, I gotta’ hang up. A spot has finally opened on the pickleball court. My partner is the CEO of Creepo Crypto. I might invest my life savings in his cryptocurrency. I know a good business opportunity when I see one.