World's Ugliest Internet Device

I was passing through the baggage claim at LaGuardia Airport when I stumbled on a terribly odd contraption mounted to a wall.

From a distance, I had no idea what it was. At first, it resembled those tired-looking ATM machines you often see in New York City delis, with a screen, keyboard and credit card reader. But its black handset also resembled a retro payphone. Yet it also had a black industrial-grade box with a peephole, bolted to the top.

WTF was this?

As I got close, it displayed signage: “Pay Email -- Read, Write, Send & Surf.”

And that black box bolted to the top read “Skype Video Phone.”

Apparently, I had stumbled into the world’s ugliest Internet communication appliance.

I couldn’t have dreamed someone could design something so awkward and eye-soring. Steve Jobs would not have approved.

Moreover, it was a ripoff! The pricing schedule read: 35 cents a minute, credit/debit cards accepted with $5 minimum charge, and $1 minimum for cash.

With the ubiquity of smartphones, it seems its only utility is novelty.

So I took out my own smartphone and shot this picture to share on Twitter.

This begs the questions: Who would ever pay money to use one of these contraptions? Or build, run and maintain them?

Perhaps the mystery is better left unsolved.

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2 comments about "World's Ugliest Internet Device".
  1. Rick Monihan from None , May 29, 2012 at 1:45 p.m.
    Devices like this exist, and have always existed in various forms, because they are perceived as an odd 'value'. Plenty of portable and non-portable home devices were created which had similar value, and someone bought them (I bought one or two of those 'good ideas' in my day....I remember when Bernoulli Boxes were a great idea. Hell, the Newton was one of those ideas, too....Apple has made great strides since then.) I know people who still use their email only contraptions. I know people who still PAY for their AOL ("if I don't, they'll take away my email"). You're right. I've seen those things, too. I've seen different versions in different airports for years. But then again, airports have weird things about them. After all, if you don't have a wireless data plan (as I luckily do), you have to pay for wireless internet access - and it's still ridiculously expensive if you do that. Cheaper than that device, but still expensive. There are enough technologically illiterate people, and uninformed people, who are willing to try things and pay for this use. Sure, these products may have short lifespans, but some earn plenty of money in the meantime. "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." - Henry Mencken
  2. Keith Bemis from Virtual Media Development , May 29, 2012 at 11:22 p.m.
    Well believe it or not many public use devices are ugly , but so is my doughnut tire small, and no bling! but that's not it's function. This device will still be functional and profitable long after your glass enclosed iphone has been recycled for it's sand value..