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How are Vodafone's new handsets like the Edsel?


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August 16, 2005

How are Vodafone's new handsets like the Edsel?

Stephen Baker

John Moore praises Vodafone's new simple cell phones, which apparently are designed for easy talking. Loads of people insist they want a phone only for talking, and that the other stuff gets in the way. It's become almost politically correct. (Subtext: Gadgets do not rule my life.) The question is whether these people can be believed. Car buyers in the late '50s asked for simplicity, and Ford gave them the Edsel. Would you buy one of these pared down phones?

(Art from Edsel.com)

04:38 PM

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Internal research studies at Vodafone did identify consumers over the age of 35 said they wanted simpler phones. However, saying it and buying it are two different things. (New Coke being a classic example here.)

Stephen, I reckon the marketplace will decide if the Vodafone Simply is the new Edsel ... and it very well could be.

Posted by: johnmoore (from Brand Autopsy) at August 16, 2005 05:29 PM

Stephen,

I am having a discussion with a blogger colleague as to whether a journalist would ever just reference a blog post. It occurs to me you do this every day in blogspotting. Would I be correct in saying this, or do you always contact the blogger?

John

Posted by: john cass at August 17, 2005 07:38 AM

It's easy to guess that the consumer wants something different, and usually something simpler. It's tougher to guess what that 'simpler' is.

The trouble is, very often the person who collects the consumer data misinterprets it.

For example, the new 'simpler' Vodafones don't have much in the way of features. But as a 50-something I can't operate the features, not because I don't understand them, but because (with my sausage-sized old-man fingers) I can't operate the tiny keypad. And can't see it very well either.

The new simpler phone still has very small keys with small inscriptions on them, so the larger text size on the screen is rather pointless.

I wouldn't mind betting that the people who design the phones are rather different from the users the phones are aimed at. The new phone might well fail, but not for the reasons the 20-something Vodafone market research people think.

Posted by: Andrew Denny at August 17, 2005 06:20 PM


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