It would be easy to despair, as it seems the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones did, of finding form factor innovation at a Mobile World Congress dominated more than ever by generic black touchscreen slates. However, an exploration of Fujitsu’s booth revealed a manufacturer not afraid to experiment with different colour and material choices. With the Japanse vendor poised for a global marketing expansion, others would do well to take note.
None of these features is likely – on its own – to translate into a best selling product. However, it suggests an attitude of mind where experimentation in colours, form and physical attributes such as water proofing and toughening are embraced as differentiators. I frequently hear demand for these qualities in user interviews, yet few manufacturers are responding.
Here’s my brief photo essay of Fujitsu’s approach.
The last time I saw a product sporting a red to pink graduated colour fade was the early 1990s mountain biking scene. Well, it seems it may be coming soon to a Fujitsu phone near you:
It is increasingly rare to find visual flourishes such as these dual colour buttons:
Many of Fujitsu’s Arrows series are waterproof. This one mixes white metals and plastics, deliberately revealing its construction to convey a sense of engineering solidity to the user. Telling a customer a device is waterproof is one thing, making them believe you and trust the brand enough to test that claim is quite another:
Fujitsu’s Windows Phone device is just for the Japanese market at the moment, but a brief search of user forums on the web reveals tremendous demand from international consumers to get their hands on this fluorescent device, complete with waterproofing and 13 megapixel camera. Whatever the internal marketing teams tell you, if you’re brave enough to build mobile devices in ludicrous colours, customers will reward you for it:
I’m at a loss to understand why manufacturers continue to create pink, make-up themed devices for particular market segments, but there is something refreshingly insane about this Fujitsu design with it’s lipstick-style attachment, pink bow tie buttons and heart shaped camera. A welcome change from the sea of black uniformity:
Selling a device on its dimensions alone is rarely a recipe for success, but this member of the Arrows series is waterproof and incredibly light, measuring just over 6mm thick. It is also equipped with ‘Ultra Tough Guard’ an abrasion resistant coating designed to minimise the frustrating scuffing and scratching which occurs when device meets keys or coins in a user’s pocket.