Does your mobile speak volumes about who you are?

by Vikki Chowney on 18th May 2009

Things have been a bit quiet from my side recently, but I’m now firmly back on UK time and returning my attention to all things mobile.

While in L.A., I had various conversations with many different people about their respective phones, relating specifically to why they’d purchased them. A large percentage of the responses actually focused on aesthetic or ‘touchy feely’ aspects, rather than technical capabilities. In fact, even here at Really Mobile, many reviews start from this point before digging deeper. Often, I’ll compare shape, weight or design first and foremost (which I’ll come back to in a minute).

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'Love me, love my phone' - MC Hammer, circa 1994

Thinking along these lines, I was reminded of a conversation I had the other day in which someone asked me what phone they should buy. I advised, and then they went on to ask which handset would impress people the most. I thought it was a strange question to ask, but said person explained that they wanted people to raise an eyebrow when they put their phone on the table.

Though it’s not something I’d personally factor into choosing which phone to use, this started me thinking about what your mobile says about you and why it’s such an extension of your persona for some.

I’m assuming that what he wanted really was for people to think his phone was cool and therefore he was as well.

Is there really a connection between your personality and the phone you choose? Nielsen did some research a while back that suggested that if you’ve got a Nokia in your pocket, you’ll be a family-minded, middle-aged manager. Results also showed that if you carry a Motorola, chances are you’re under 24 and fashion conscious (no, really). Sony Ericsson handsets are said to be favoured by ambitious young men trying to make their mark, LGs are for the Mums and Samsungs are used by young women focused on their career.

To me, that’s WAY off the mark, but that project was conducted abroad, so there’s certainly cultural differences. However, in an ever saturated market, it’s important insight for the major telcos to highlight behavioural groups and design handsets to coincide. Now, I’ll come back to the point I first made at the beginning of this post.

Though UK tariffs aren’t perfect, you could argue that customer satisfaction from one carrier to the next is reasonably the same across the board. Therefore, the image associated with different handsets that operators choose to bundle with their services with may be far more important in winning market share than previously thought.

Though I never hear anyone say ‘I’ve bought a Samsung because I think it makes me look great’, I do see people regularly chastised for owning a phone that has a bad reputation. Both Vodafone and o2 (the latter exclusively through Carphone Warehouse) shipping the N97 next month, the Palm Pre imminent and maybe even a new iPhone arriving not far behind, the fact of the matter is, the remainder of 2009 is looking very interesting indeed on the handset front.

So when it comes to choosing your next upgrade, why not take a moment to think about what your phone says about you, or maybe why you’re choosing one over another?

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