It’s 1994 and a half-dozen AT&T executives are meeting in New York.
“Alright, people, let’s get started. You all know why we’re here,” the Chief stated. “We’ve been selling Princess phones for 35 years, and now the big boys want to discontinue production.
“So before we pull the plug, I want to ask each one of you for salvage ideas: Who’ll save the Princess?”
“Carlson, your thoughts!”
“Only one, Chief! How ‘bout we make a new base, shaped like shoe, and add a toe to the handset, so when the two are joined the toe sticks out like a misfit shoe, and everyone gets a big kick out of it, thinking Cinderella?”
“Too corny, Carlson, but nice try,” the Chief said.
“Hoglund! What’s your idea?”
“Clear plastic, Chief, so that all internal components are visible to the consumer. Sort of a glass slipper takeoff on Carlson’s idea! With even greater appeal to mechanical nerds! And women do like shoes!”
“I like the mechanical angle, Hoglund. But Jesus, everyone, enough with the Cinderella crap!
“Who’s next? Schwartzmiller?”
“Jewels, Sir. Precious stones imbedded in both the base and handset. We might not sell as many phones, but if we charge enough and target the elitist crowd, we could still make a bundle!”
“Not bad, Schwartzmiller. I like where that line of thinking is headed. But I don’t think it’s wise to price anyone out.
“Peterson, you’re a woman. What would the ladies want in a new Princess phone?”
“It vacuums, cooks and scrubs toilets!” Peterson quipped. “Just kidding, Sir, but grab yourself and consider what I think is a bold new concept.
“The Princess is already small, streamline and marketed for bedroom use. Let’s put all our cards on the table and make the entire handset a massager/vibrator as well as a phone. In fact, scrap the ringer feature altogether and add a vibration adjuster for appropriate stimulation. And maybe,” she added with a raised eyebrow and knowing smile, “rethink the shape of the whole phone, making it longer and thicker.”
Nine seconds of deafening silence followed Peterson’s delivery before the Chief, sitting slack-jawed and owl-eyed, cleared his throat, blinked four times and said, “Jesus, Peterson, a fucking vibrator? My wife would never go for that. And I don’t think Carlson, Hoglund or Schwartzmiller’s wives would either. Would they?”
“Excuse me, Sir,” said Mr. Wu, the last of the seated executives waiting to be heard. “I think we might want to look at the new cordless technology and messaging feature we’re hearing about. And a smaller, hinged product along the lines of the communicator device on Star Trek. Maybe even think about some kind of viewing screen down the road for message reading and photo imaging or conferencing potential.”
“Crissakes, Wu,” the Chief said. “We’re looking for tangible concepts here, not Star Fleet mumbo jumbo. Let’s think plausible, shall we?
“Peterson, back to you. How long? How thick? And colors? Do we stick with pink? Talk to me, people!”
(This was written as a Writers Kickstart prompt, 500 words or less on the topic Who’ll Save the Princess.)