Wednesday, May 18, 2011

HTC's Phone Targeted Toward Women - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?

I ran into this interesting article on BNET; HTC is Making a Smart Phone for Women.  At first, I thought that this was going to be an article extolling the virtues of using research to create a product targeted at a market with some unique needs, but Damon Brown read the news in a completely different way -- that HTC had completely missed the boat on this one and will join the ranks of other failed segment-based products such as the Samsung phone targeted at teens.

Perception Driving Data Interpretation

Granted this new product may or may not happen -- after all, these reports were based on information coming from a "trusted source" which leaves a lot of room for error and corporate mind changing.  But that isn't what I'm focused on.  I'm focused on the data interpretation.

The article Damon wrote was based on information coming from another article written in This is My Next, so one blog referencing another and neither from HTC.  Both authors were basically insulted by HTC effort to create a phone with specific features targeted at women.

As I think about this - it doesn't seem that it's the "targeted at women" that's the problem, rather it's the assumptions that were made about what would make the phone specifically appealing to women and, as it turns out, the features were :
COLOR -  "greenish hue — we are told it’s somewhere between a forest and sea green and the color was selected for its “calming” effect. Our source was shown a few mockups, but each of them had a greenish-gray rubber back so “women can have a better grip of the phone.”

"shopping comparison and calorie counting apps — you know, because every woman watches the pounds"

accessories. First up is a wireless charging dock with built-in speakers. The phone apparently switches to alarm mode when you set it down on the charging pad. Speaking of speakers, there will also be a square-shaped speaker that attaches to a car visor and supports voice recognition. There will also be a “stylish” matching Bluetooth headset available.

The last accessory is certainty the most interesting. It’s said to be called the “charm indicator” and the cube-shaped device comes with a hook for attaching to a purse or bag. As we tried to show in the image, it lights up to notify you when you’ve got a new message or missed call. We expected this to pair wirelessly with the phone, however, we are told that it attaches to phone with a cord — apparently, the cord also makes it easier for women to fish the phone out of that deep purse. It sounds like a pretty crazy idea, but one that actually makes a bit of sense for those that constantly lose their phone in their bag and want to easily see if they have a new message.

I'm curious about what YOU think.  All of this information came from an insider and is based on focus groups HTC is said to have conducted with women in their 20's and 30's.  There is no mention of whether additional research has been conducted and what the results of that were.

If you were HTC what would you do next?  How would you handle the project?  Are people being simply too sensitive?  I mean why do we criticize car makers for not designing cars that are women friendly and then bash on HTC because they want to make it easier to dig your phone out of your purse?


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