Hung up on fashion? Mobiles are now off-the-peg

Hung up on fashion? Mobiles are now off-the-peg, by Julian Lee - 23rd November 2004
(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

Ten years ago, if you wanted your mobile phone to go with the colour of your jacket all you had to do was change the cover. Nowadays you buy a new phone.

The latest chapter in the transformation of the mobile phone from tool to fashion item will unfold tonight when a "couture" collection of phones is unveiled at a $200,000 extravaganza at the State Theatre.

International models, champagne and 200 of Sydney's beau monde will signal the arrival of the new range, which will include one handset that resembles a lipstick holder, small enough to fit into a clutch bag and expected to retail for $1500.

It is the latest move by mobile phone operators to stimulate growth in the $4.8 billion Australian mobile phone market as it creeps ever closer to saturation.

And part of that strategy will be to persuade fashion-conscious Sydneysiders that owning a single handset is no longer good enough - they have to have a party phone as well.

The head of marketing for Nokia, Antony Wilson, said: "A lot of people get a phone through work and they don't have a choice over what kind of phone. We are presenting them with an alternative. Our research found there was a real demand here for a phone that allowed them to express their individuality. This is something that they can take out in the evening."

In its sights are the "fashion segment" who make up about 5 per cent of the adult population and "want to be noticed", Mr Wilson said. While many handset manufacturers are encouraging consumers to trade up to more fashionable and expensive models, this is the first time an entire "collection" has been put on the market.

Nokia hopes it will do for the mobile phone what the brightly coloured iMac and the iPod did for Apple computers.

In the first three months of this year Nokia's global market share was 28.9 per cent, down from 32 per cent in the corresponding period last year. And Nokia's image as a leader in cutting edge design has also been blunted by firms that have brought out trendier more stylish models.

An independent telecommunications analyst, Paul Budde,said: "The replacement market is a very important element. If you can't sell more phones then you can try and get them to change phones, and if you are creating a fashion element to it then they'll change them more frequently."

Each year up to 6 million phones are changed in Australia, and Nokia plans to market a new collection every 12 months.

Mr Wilson said the new range would put the "wow" back into the brand.


The Sydney Morning Herald

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