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Nokia 8800. The premium segment or the second birth of the idea

The article you read now appeared as an introduction to the review of the Nokia 8800. In some moment, namely in the end of the second page, it became clear the material deserves publishing separately, and the volume of the text was too much for an introduction. The genre is not ordinary - that is an excursus to the past, precisely to 1996, when the Nokia 8800 was created. The statement is not wrong though seems to be at first sight. Read the article and know how Nokia created its premium segment, and which methods it used.

A little of history or the appearance of the Nokia's premium segment

Even in the beginning of its life the company attended to creating a premium segment model, but really attention to the question was paid only in the 1996. And then a decision to manufacture a premium model different from all phones on the market both in material and form-factor appeared. The task for the engineers and designers didn't seem a simple one. On one hand, they had an element base of not small components; on the other hand, both the dimensions and the weight of the future model had to be the minimal among all the other models on the market. An integrated antenna and a radio block were developed specially for the new phone, experiments with various materials started. Soon the designers made a conclusion the device should attract with a chromed body, and even better with a metal one. But the technology restrictions prevented from making a metallic body and fit the weight restrictions, in the end, plastic with metal-resembling sputtering was used. General management was carried out by the head of the design bureau - Frank Nuovo.

The model got the name of the Nokia 8810 and officially was announced at the CeBIT exhibition, Hanover, on the 18 of March 1998. The public accepted the model delightfully; just remember waiting for the start of the sales and the absence of any rivals for the model. That device was the first to have online ads posted; Asian markets were used as a proving ground. The number of non-technical innovations and the number of stories about the device are really great. This model truly became a new page in the Nokia's history and quite a significant one. The model was of great interest and marketing support, several months before the sales the devices was presented to the Swedish band Ace of Base whose single "Life is a Flower" was in TOP10 almost in all the European charts. Naturally, all the band members got a personal device. The phone was handed over on the stage of the Olympic stadium in Helsinki during the charity concert given by the band. It's interesting, that was their first performance in Finland. The company thought over a possibility of including the single as a call melody for the Nokia 8810, but the idea failed for some reasons.

The device was promoted in every possible way, starting with TV and ending with glossy magazines. Frank Nuovo told the Nokia 8810 is similar to good watches or a pen, a device with an utilitarian meaning. But besides, the Nokia 8810 is a product of desire, the device really attracts. Essentially, here are his words: "We wanted to create a phone which was not only about advanced technology. Even more important, we wanted to design a phone that would make people instinctively reach out and say, 'I like this,' a design that would communicate style and enduring quality. Like a fine watch or a fountain pen, the Nokia 8810 is a product you need. But more than that, it is a beautiful object that you desire".

The designers succeeded in fulfilling the goals they had. In the beginning of the year all the focus groups, held by the company, showed the design by the Frank Nuovo's group is not just successful, but is taken as a high-price product at first sight. The Italian market research impressed the most; the customers having a weakness for everything fashionable gave the highest appreciation to the Nokia 8810. As a result, Italia became one of the first countries where the sales started, and later the sales volumes only proved the carried out researches.

The company stressed the device had a metallized covering but is not made of metal. While leading the model to the Chinese market, some problems appeared with translation, in the company's documents and manual the Nokia 8810 became of metal. In summer 1999, 62 men brought an action against the company for confusing them, since they found no metal in their devices. Nokia's top manager in China Ren Weiguang's had to publish an open letter to all the customers of the Nokia 8810 explaining the device had chromed panels but was not made of metal. The problem was caused by a mistaken translation. Both parts soon came to consent, and the conflict didn't receive publicity.

The second fly in the ointment was a radio block work, the majority of the devices got out of action in the first four months after the sales started. The problem was mass, and the company had to localize it and repair the devices as guaranteed. One of my relatives managed to repair it twice, she got it in November, the first time fell on January and the second visit, when everything was completely repaired happened in April 1999.

The company was ready not only to repair the phones but also offer extra bonuses. But the majority of the owners reacted the way showing no need in that, simple repair was quite enough. The owners of the fashion device were ready to make an exception and wait for the maintenance. Later the company successfully used the gained experience; just remember the problems with the screen in the Nokia 3310, everything was solved in the course of guarantee obligations and only.

The last feature to mention, it will be important in the further speech. That is emotional promotion of the model and making the image. The company called the Nokia 8810 the sixth sense, something intangible, but in which people are quite sure. Here is the ad of the device; it is of current importance even today:

“You might call it chemistry, electricity, magic. It is a sixth sense that makes you want to pick up the Nokia 8810 and say "I want this." If asked to explain, you might say you like the materials, the size or the weight. It's all of these and none of them. You like the Nokia 8810 because it is well-designed and technicall advanced. But you love it because of a perception of its enduring quality. How do you know? A sixth sense.”

Replace the model's name; a today device will surely suit the description. The professionals worked at the Nokia 8810's image, and the result is significant now. The work of the 1998 was very qualitative, people remember it now, but that will be discussed a bit later.

The Nokia 8850 shown in public on the 21 of June 1999 was the successor of the 8810. Similar design and many characteristics did not make the model as popular as the Nokia 8810, but this device was also successful. It remained on the market till the end of 2001.

The next step for the company in the premium segment was the announcement of "titanic" models, particularly, the Nokia 8910. Here sputtering was also applied, but the technologies allowed making it much more qualitative as compared with the Nokia 8810/8850. Many users really believed they possessed a titanic device with almost no plastic. As different to the Nokia 8810 the new models implemented another idea and that is another way of design. There is no succession between the Nokia 8910 and Nokia 8810, just similar positioning. The form-factor is different despite the general similarity. The presence of a sliding cover closing the keyboard was dictated only by the popularity of the flip phones and their fashion component. The Nokia 8910 shows the opening mechanism that pulls the main block out of the barrel with a spring. There is still no a copy of this mechanism, which is a good example of how a new technology adds to a fashion phone, brings some extra charm. The task that was given to the designers of the Nokia 8910 differed from the one for the Nokia 8810, not an elegant appearance, but an impression of reliability was necessary (that is combining the weight and the dimensions of the phone in the customers' idea of its metallic, titanic essence). The designers made their task well. Reasoning from this, we can surely say. The Nokia 8910 and its "i" version are the second family of the premium phones by Nokia. De-facto these models are not logical continuators of the Nokia 8810. The Nokia 8800 officially announced on the 7 of April 2005 may be taken as a successor.

The premium segment today or everything new is well forgotten past

The history repeats, and this statement perfectly illustrates the Nokia 8800's fate. The same principles as for the Nokia 8810 were followed during the development and promotion of the model. The 8810 was a reference for the new device from the very beginning; the majority of the ideas came from that time and now may be implemented on the new technological level. The body material is now real metal and also the device is a slider in the spirit of the last tendencies. That is the most successful form-factor for the premium segment today. All the rest features remained similar to the previous model with a correction for up-to-dateness.

So, which theme do you think is the main in promoting the device? Yes, that's right, it is a forgotten slogan "The sixth sense". At the model presentation in the Harry Tatintsan gallery, the room was divided into six sense zones. In the first you heard music, in the second, which was the taste zone, tried various foods. Then the smell and touch zones followed. Naturally, the sixth zone was wholly devoted to the Nokia 8800. The company applied the same discoveries that it used for the Nokia 8810 promotion, since little people remember them.

The next step was to choose a unique set of musical compositions for the model, a popular Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto was chosen. He works with electronic music and has got an Oscar for the arrangement for one film recently. The main composition for the Nokia 8800 became Dharma. This very sample has to associate with the device, according to the composer and company marketing specialists. Let's remind, in the Nokia 8810's case poor musical possibilities of the device were that obstacle that prevented from collaboration with Ace of Base.

Any premium segment device needs to refer a potential customer to other status things like watches or a car. The company did not fail to do that, particularly, they mention the phone glass is similar to the one used in clock industry, abrasion resistant. That is not a sapphire glass as many think, that is only a hardened one. That is another technology taken from watchmakers - that is casting under pressure. This is the way the functional keys are made. There is no practical use in this, on the other hand that is prestige, an attempt of creating an association with expensive brands. The same goals are pursued by integrating the Carl Zeiss optics into the N90. The last touch is chemical etch, that is the way the Nokia inscription is made on the back of the phone.

Nokia not only studied by the Nokia 8810 example but wholly realized its potential in marketing and advertising, which was founded in 1998. The new device is a successor, and the same methods are used fro its promotion. Considering the brand popularity, phones' uncommonness and the absence of any rivals in the from-factor, a successful fate may be predicted to the device, it will repeat the Nokia 8810's success. Judging by this pair of models we can think of the next model line, where the company designers will take the prototype for new phones. Such a game in historical associations we played here.

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Maria Mitina (maria.mitina@mobile-review.com)

Published - 6 June 2005

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com



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