Yep. This article by Atul Bhattarai was an absolutely fascinating read, and we’ll give you a rolling start…
All of us generally assume that a missed call means someone wanted to talk to you. They wanted you to pick up the phone. If you like them enough, you should probably call them back when you can. You get it.
We’ll call that the Face Value school of missed-call thought. But in early-2000s India, missed calls had a second, totally different meaning.
In that time and place, cell phones were relatively accessible but the service was incredibly expensive; a 10-minute phone call would cost you an average person’s daily wage. But there’s a quirk in the system: it only charges you if the call connects.
So people realized that they could one-ring each other, like a simple pager, and it’d be free as long as nobody picked up the phone. People would agree in advance what the missed call meant; it could be practical (“I’m on my way”) or affectionate (“I’m thinking of you”) or anything in between.
That’s already an amazing combination of savvy and heartwarming—but then it becomes entrepreneurial, too.
Much of the rest of the article is about ZipDial, which basically found a way to turn this missed-call habit into a business (for a time). Just dial this hotline or that one, and we’ll send you automatic texts and callbacks with everything you need. Could be news, could be deals, could be cricket scores, could even be a rudimentary “on-demand radio” for popular Bollywood songs. 🤯