Style Phones A Growing Trend


Mobile phones based on style rather than technology have been around for a while, but whereas they used to be a curiosity they are now becoming a major trend, at least in Japan. There’s also more effort going into them…back in 2003 Samsung’s T500 was targeted at women by changing the color of the case, adding some cubic zirconia and preloading a “pink schedule” and fatness indicator onto it. NTT DoCoMo’s women’s phone is designed by fashion designer Momoko Ikuta: “The result is a handset that is curved at one end like a marquise-cut diamond — the perfect shape, Ms. Ikuta thought, to flatter a woman’s face when held to the ear. She then added special software, such as a seasonal recipe guide and a menstrual-cycle tracker — and a button that orders up a fake incoming call a few seconds later to cut short a bad date…(she) went as far as choosing colors used in makeup products that suit Asian skin and look good when a woman is speaking on the phone — mint green, as used in concealer makeup; orangey coral often seen in nail polish and blush powder; and white with a bit of pink and “champagne gold” to make skin shimmer.”
This trend has some serious implications. The distinguishing feature about fashion is that it is niche — Japanese operators are selling a lot more different types of phones, meaning that each model sells less individually, which lessens the economies of scale. For content producers it means having a lot more handsets to have to port their content to. Even if a fashion phone has the guts of a different model something as simple as changing the layout of the keys can seriously effect the ease of use of an application.
Reuters reports that Nokia’s Vertu phones — for the seriously rich who want to flaunt it — are selling so well the handset maker can’t keep up with demand.

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