Nokia’s latest premium handset – the 8800 Sirocco edition – underlines how the language of the mobile industry is evolving from the acronyms of the past to embrace the style-led parlance of a business which shares the constantly shifting charactistics of the fashion world.
The Finnish manufacturer claims the design of the 800 is: “Inspired by the forces of nature and the sculptural beauty of the body…”
Its marketing materials provide extensive detail on the origin of the product’s nomenclature, drawing a parallel between the Sirocco, ‘a powerful desert-born wind that originates in the Sahara when a warm, dry air mass collides with the cooler, maritime air of the Mediterrean’ and the light and dark variants of the handset: ‘the light inspired by the hot, dry air mass, the dark by the cooler, humid one. ‘
Instead of ringtones, the 8800 has a ‘a unique sonic texture’ created by ambient music pioneer Brian Eno that is ‘organic, calm and highly evolved.’
Nokia’s marketing hyperbole reaches its climax in describing the input buttons of the handset, telling customers: “The ergonomic keypad undulates like the glimmering dunes of the night desert, whilst the jewel-like navigation key shines like the brightest star in the darkest night.”
The 8800 uses some impressive materials, including a saphire-coated, scratch-resistant display similar to those found on high-end watches. It also includes a complimentary Bluetooth headset engineered in stainless steel to match the design of the handset.
Priced at EUR 1000, the device is positioned in the middle-ground between the ultra-premium offerings from Nokia’s Vertu subsidary. It is within reach of many consumers, but with a price tag which will ensure a certain exclusivity. Vertu itself continues to go from strength-to-strength. It recently announced it is selling ‘tens of thousands’ of handsets per year at prices of EUR 2000 and upwards.
This premium consumer category is set for significant growth. As fashion becomes a more important part of the mobile business, manufacturers will seek to define their unique style with special editions aimed at the most discerning customers. Some will chose to do so in partnership with established fashion brands; Nokia, in contrast, seems intent on creating its own language for mobile style and crafting a high-end brand image.