Did you know that 12 year olds have a hierarchy of phones?
Neither did I until today. OK, I did understand that there is a ranking of cool, but not really how important this is in driving purchasing.
I know that some phones are cool and some are not. A new £500 phone is surely going to be better than a 10 year old brick. What I didn’t fully appreciate is how cool factors into this.
So what is the coolest phone?
Answer Easy: iPhone (whatever is the latest model). Older models are acceptable, but not more than a couple of versions. iPhone 4 is fine, iPhone 3 is borderline ok. Just.
So. What is next?
Surprise time. Blackberry. Followed by Samsung, but only if you have a decent model. The entry level Android phones are on the borderline and as for non-Smartphones … don’t ask. Better to not carry a phone than to carry one that could be bought for £10 from Tescos.
Apart from Blackberry beating Samsung at least with BBM loving tweens, not great surprises so far
But where this became interesting was when I asked about Nokia.
Ah, but what about the new Lumia 1020 whatever-model with a 41 megapixel camera – twice that of a professional digital SLR?
Nokia = uncool. Simple as that.
And herein lies the problem.
If my 12 year old represents the market that Nokia wants to win, then it has a struggle ahead. In addition to investing in new cameras, bright colours and a fast interface it desperately needs to invest to fix the image problem.
It needs to convince its customers that it is OK to own a Nokia phone.
This is likely to be a much harder task than improving the hardware.
The harsh reality is that from a features perspective is the majority of new phones are good enough. Apps did matter, but not anymore as the most popular apps are available on most platforms, or there are alternative options – but if your phone isn’t cool, then you have real problems.
UPDATE: 28th September 2013.
[Also corrected a couple of grammar errors in the original post]
Blackberry are now out of the running. They are back down below Samsung and even Microsoft (just).
How did this happen?
Whilst kids may not watch financial reports or track stock prices, they are aware of whether a being company is successful or not. Blackberry is clearly not being successful, so the goodwill that they had is eroding away. They may not understand the details, but a company laying off lots of its workforce is not good. New handsets are failing to impress and the competition (meaning Apple and Samsung) is getting stronger. Outcome = uncool.
The iPhone 5s and recent Galaxy announcements, combined with the latest Blackberry news are the final nails in the coffin.
The analysis from a 12 year old … they are unrecoverable.
Strategists and branding analysts may disagree, but they clearly have an uphill struggle. A return to focusing on the enterprise market may not just be a prudent option. It may be their only option.