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Is LG making the RAZR mistake?

Posted: July 17th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Mobile | 10 Comments »

Last night I saw an ad on television for “The All New LG Chocolate.” At first glance at the spinning 360 degree shot all I can see i that perhaps it’s just a little thinner. Other than that there doesn’t seem to be any major changes to either the hardware or software from what I can tell. It looks like they’ve simplified the buttons on the front of the phone (good for them) and are going for the iPod wheel look. It’s laden with all of the newest Verizon mobile TV technology and also features a “it’s definitely not an iPod” music UI. Verizon’s music identification service sounds novel but seems to be one of the few new features on this version of the Chocolate. From a hardware standpoint, it can handle up to 4 gigs of MicroSD memory instead of 2 gigs, but the internal memory (128 megs) remains the same.

Many companies have made the RAZR mistake in the past. A few years back, Sony Ericsson rode the T610 form factor for much longer than they should have. For a year or two, 610′s and similar were all I saw in the US. Sony Ericsson hasn’t put together a phone with US mass market appeal since, though they have made some excellent phones. Now, for the time being at least, everything’s coming up RAZR.

Rewind 10 years and everyone was clamoring for the Motorola StarTAC and the Nokia 8200 series. Give it another year, and we’ll be dumping our RAZRs for the next new thing (whatever that is) that hits critical mass.

Please excuse my US-centric analogies above. While I’m a total mobile geek and keep track of mobile trends throughout the world, my real world experience with “normal” non-geeks is limited to what I can observe around me.

Perhaps it’s time to start treating mobile phones like the fashion accessories they are. Phones are subject to the same trends, fads and knockoffs that the fashion industry is.

“Have you seen the fall Nokia lineup?”

“I can’t believe she’s wearing those boots and using last years’ phone!”

Fashion or not, trend or not, there’s no excuse for riding your success and market share in to the ground instead of innovating. Even if you don’t get it right, don’t have “The Next Big Thing,” you at least have to try.