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Saturday, August 29, 2009

How lifestyle shapes technology, vice versa

MOBILE PHONE manufacturers are constantly upgrading devices to enable people “to experience a wide variety of features that complement their personalities and lifestyles,” says Sandeep Khanna, Nokia Philippines marketing head.

“All handset brands, Nokia, in particular, are bringing technology that fuses seamlessly into people’s lives. If you get them to do more with their device, they will stay loyal to you.”

So how does Nokia make its hardware more attractive to consumers?

Khanna cites key trends:

Smartphones or mobiles with IT features are the next big thing. Wide access to multimedia information is available on hand, literally. “It’s adding more function to a small device. The N97 has 32 gigs of storage. My laptop has 37 gigs,” says Khanna.

According to the New York Times, “The great promise of a smartphone is that it can be just about anything you need it to be in a given moment.”

Traditional features are getting more sophisticated yet made accessible with lower price points. In the past, a 5-megapixel camera-phone would fetch P25,000. Today, the popular Nokia 6700 classic offers this feature at P16,570. The mobiles are slowly replacing the MP3 player. The 6700 can store 325 songs using the +eaac (high-efficiency advanced video coding) format.

But with its expandable memory of up to 8 gigabytes, it can store 3,000 songs. For the audiophile, the Nokia 5130 Xpressmusic stores 750 songs and is priced at P5,840.

Materials are getting more refined. The new phones are made of high-tech materials such as carbon fiber, titanium and burnished steel, which lend lightness, durability and elegance to the product.

With its constant evolution, Nokia is also blurring the lines between manufacturing handphones and providing mobile data services., the Finnish word for “portal,” is going the way of Microsoft, Apple and Google.

“It is our door to the Internet. Through we will bring a range of services and solutions to the Philippines – e-mail, maps, games and music. It will consist of a fairly rounded repertoire of services that people need today,” says Khanna.

The local launch is still under wraps. However, you can check out and even open a free e-mail account with 1 gigabyte of storage.

New products

The marketing executive adds that Nokia will present new products that will enable users to open an e-mail account on the phone and access their e-mail in just three clicks. The range will be available from the lower and mid-range phones, which cost between P2,500 and P15,000.

“It’s a very clear strategy for us to make e-mail accessible to the widest mass of users,” he says. These features and services will augur well in remote areas where people don’t own a computer or have access to an Internet café. (Users will pay for Internet charges).

As added feature, Nokia owners can personalize their phones with the company’s latest application outlet, the Ovi Store. Most of the apps are free of charge in the Philippine market, such as games and media entertainment.

Khanna points out the potential of Ovi Share. “You can upload photos and videos in an unlimited storage for free... More than just devices, we have to present services and solutions to people. That’s the way to encourage usage [of Nokia], the way to build brand equity and live by our mission of connecting people.”

Meanwhile, Nokia is strengthening ties to its market segment through the 6700 classic.

“To connect, you need to go beyond the traditional feature-benefit type of communication. This audience requires a sensorial connection. This is where marketing is important. This segment leads to a fuller, richer and more well-rounded life. We need to be a part of that life,” he adds.

Prestige events

Nokia recently tied up with a society magazine for the launch of its restaurant guide. An event highlight was a photo exhibit of foods by Alex Van Hagen, taken with the 6700c camera.

Nokia also collaborated with Inquirer Lifestyle and Look magazine for the Manila debut of Australian-based Filipino designer Leonardo Salinas.

On September 7, Nokia, the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Look will hold a style photo exhibit at Ayala Museum. In October, Nokia and Inquirer Lifestyle will hold an art exhibit.

“Lifestyle trends are changing and you need to have your ear to the ground to see what’s new. For example, no-name branding is what connects more with this market profile than the in-your-face branding. Understatement is a big statement by itself. Basically we live through the different facets of our customers’ lives. Fashion was the starting point.

“But it was also important to connect to other dimensions such as food and gourmet. The upcoming events are on beauty/style and art. We thought of presenting all of these in a well-rounded and cohesive way. Today, every brand likes to have a lifestyle dimension because people are realizing there is more to products than just features and benefits,” explains Khanna.

“In Nokia, we live through our brand values and personality. We are very sociable, curious and authentic. Those are our brand values. In the way we present ourselves, we stand out uniquely because we’ve always been a leader in the Philippines. The 6700 is sensorial and a piece of affordable luxury. Hence, the Lifestyle and Look event aims to present style as it’s never been done before. It’s all about the look and invoking the senses.”

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