Mark Bridge writes:
Once upon a time, I’d probably have described myself as a feminist. These days I probably wouldn’t. Not because my opinions have changed, just because I’ve realised there are a lot of people who’d argue that I can’t be a feminist because of my male undercarriage. And me, by birth and possibly by education, therefore being part of the problem – not part of the solution.
Fair enough. I’ll leave I Blame the Patriarchy to offer a feminist perspective that’s rather more apposite.
Right, disclaimer over. I’ll get to the point. Traditionally, if you want a mobile phone that’ll appeal to men, you make it a rectangular cuboid. You paint it silver or black. Possibly both. You give it a control interface that resembles the Apollo lunar lander transplanted into a DeLorean. And then you install an application that makes lightsabre noises. Finished you are, hmm, yes?
Similarly, if you wanted a phone that would appeal to women, you'd make it pink. Or purple. You may laugh, but it's worked. Just look at Samsung’s sales figures. You may try to argue that these colours are non-gender-specific, but that’s not really the case, is it? Not when you include a free nail varnish.
Yet surely times have changed? Nope. And apparently even a Hello Kitty licensing agreement isn't girly enough for 2009. What you need is a look at Vodafone’s Catwalk collection. These (and it's not just Vodafone that does this kind of thing) are mobile phones that would make Paris Hilton blush. One is the exclusive Crystal, which is “the result of a collaboration between Vodafone and CRYSTALLIZED”. It’s studded with Swarovski crystals. Another is Lady. Yes, ‘Lady’. The case has a picture showing ‘girls about town’ by German designer and illustrator Tomek Sadurski.
Sure, women and men have different needs and different preferences. I refer you back to Samsung’s phones from a few years ago with the “pink cycle” application. And some men, albeit a minority, will be attraced to a sparkly phone. But surely a desire for decent design and interesting colours are cross-gender these days?
Okay, you can buy a pink iPod. But you can also buy orange, green and yellow. Come on, mobile industry, pull yourself together. I find all these stereotypical "female-focussed" handsets pretty uncomfortable. Let’s give consumers the phones they really want, not the phones we think they want. Let’s innovate, not pigeonhole. Let’s lead the world. And let’s keep the My Little Pony phone in the toy cupboard. Please.