7 smartphone disasters that could happen to you

How to use your smartphone safely

Smartphone horror story No. 3: The literal smartphone launch

Everyone loves a good start-up story. When your company's history involves throwing expensive technology, however, sharing your roots can quickly turn dangerous. Just ask the guys from Mutual Mobile.

These days, Mutual Mobile is known for making apps focused on productivity - things like Sales Report and Polycom for the iPhone. But in the beginning, the team had a slightly different focus.

Mutual Mobile's founders made their way into the mobile market by creating a little program called HangTime (Apple later removed it from the App Store). HangTime, if you've not heard of it, encouraged people to throw their precious iPhones into the air. The app measures how high the phones go and how long it takes for them to come back down. (Yes, really.)

Silly as it seems, HangTime showed the Mutual Mobile guys how lucrative a field that app development could be. They credit the creation with helping them expand their for-fun business into a full-time venture, and they frequently tell their clients the story. "It's generally well-received," says CEO John Arrow. "One time, it was too well-received."

That might be an understatement. On the ill-fated occasion, Arrow and his colleagues were meeting with a new enterprise client. After having some laughs over their HangTime history, the client caught them off-guard by downloading the app to his own phone and giving it a whirl - right then and there, outside the Mutual Mobile offices.

"Before we knew it, our biggest client was throwing his iPhone in the air as high as he could," Arrow recalls. Arrow watched nervously as his new client's phone went up, up, and - yep, you guessed it - away. The device landed on the roof of the next building over.

"The worst part - when it landed, we heard a splash," Arrow says.

Here's hoping the poor chap at least had insurance.

The moral: When it comes to mobile technology, be careful what you suggest. You never know when your amusing anecdote might inspire a client to toss his phone onto the roof - literally or figuratively.

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Shane O'Neill

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