A geek who got a Nokia tat at age 30 might find, at age 50, that the ink is ugly, doesn't work with the newest phones and, even if it did, would be a complete drag compared to the groovy disco lights that flash in his or her mobile-phone/contact lens to identify a caller.
The second method Nokia proposes is less attention-grabbing but much more acceptable: The ink and function are all the same, but the image is drawn on a sticker that can be worn on the body part and for the length of time the user wants. No long-term commitments for a short-term phone contract.
Putting the image on stickers may be less effective. Ink on the outside of a sticker would be insulated to some degree from the skin and – no matter how smart – ink can vibrate only so far without mechanical help from outside.
Both the tattoos and the stickers are only drawings in a patent application right now. There's no indication Nokia has any imminent plans to offer them as products, even assuming the ink could pass medical testing requirements.
The stickers are far more likely to be marketable, anyway. They would allow users to change the image once in a while, at least.
And they'd let users avoid being stuck for years with a product that no longer does what they want but which refuses to die so it can be replaced with something less ugly, clunky and useless.
Of course, so many current customers use that complaint right now about Nokia's phones that the company may think anything likely to create the same response demonstrates consistency and good customer support.
It, and 50 years of being stuck with the same phone-answering tattoo, actually show how easy it is to get stuck one technology far longer than its users want to own or even see it, let alone walk around with it inscribed under their skin.
Read more of Kevin Fogarty's CoreIT blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinFogarty. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.