commentary When it comes to mobile devices -- that is, phones, laptops and PDAs -- we've seen all manner of gimmickry in the past year.
One trend that appears to be gaining momentum is the notion of products designed for a particular gender or lifestyle. "Women's phones" are paricularly in vogue, with Nokia last week launching their fashionably bohemian-styled "L'Amour" collection at a model-infested gathering in Sydney's swank Zeta Bar.
This latest range arrives in the wake of similarly female-focused models such as Samsung's E530, which features a calorie counter, shopping list tool and ideal weight calculator (the holy trinity around which all women's lives supposedly revolve).
Electronic accessories have long been marketed as expressions of one's personality, and age-old advertising strategies of the "if you buy this soft drink, beautiful women in bikinis will come and play on your front lawn" variety are certainly present in tech. Nokia's promotional material, for instance, is absurdly hyperbolic in its attempts to convince buyers that their phones can make the average punter more attractive, fun and interesting. Take these excerpts from the brochures for the new 7370 and 7380:
"Let its free spirit transport you to a fascinating new world where stylish simplicity rules."
"Touch the core of elegant inspiration as you intuitively glide through its many facets."
Free spirit? Touching the core? Uh, we're talking about two phones, right?
There's a fine line between designing a product to suit the needs of a group, and pushing an aspirational lifestyle image that feels phony (excuse the pun). Our gadgets may reflect our personalities or interests -- whether Ferrari-branded laptops or U2 iPods -- but sometimes vendors' attempts to tell us who we are (such as the "women are into shopping, dieting and their weight" assumption) are a little laughable.