Verizon Wireless and LG Wireless's much-anticipated new chocolate phone was recently unveiled to lots of oohs and aahs....


Now that the phone has come off the fashion runway, and cell phone connoisseurs have had a chance to handle the new beauty, the comments are coming in. And they seem to be a curiously mixed bag of kudos and nay-says.
While many are heaping praise on the elegant, razor-thin design, and some of its features appeal, overall, the basic features of the new phone don't seem to offer any marked improvements over existing cell phones in the marketplace. Of course it makes a great fashion statement, it's sleek and has great hand feel. But at $100 a pop, it seems to me it should offer something extra.
Some people like the fact the Chocolate has Bluetooth technology. But a nice feature like Verizon's Navigator location service adds an extra cost to the subscription rate. Some like the nice-sized screen the phone offers, but cite that the 1.3 megapixel camera seems to take very average quality photographs.
Yet others find the Chocolate difficult to navigate since the phone has small touch pads that are very close together, rather than buttons; a challenge for those with larger fingers. While visually appealing, if it proves difficult to touch one button v. two, or to remember how many taps one needs to give specific buttons to issue commands, that will frustrate lots of people.
Still other users report that they find the phone's menu difficult to navigate. The phone's ringer has a very low tone, a blessing for some and aggravation for others. It does not offer a speakerphone, which some users don't care to have, while others do.
What's even more interesting to me is that after shelling out $100 for the phone, accessories are not included and have to be purchased separately. Some people won't like the idea of paying another $30 for an accessory kit that includes the necessary software to download and listen to music, a USB cable and headphones. The music downloads also have to be purchased from V Cast at $1.99 a pop. Also: dissatisfaction has been expressed in some quarters about the sound quality of the phone's speakers when they've tried them out in the phone store.
Given all of these things, some cell phone users may pass on having the latest chic gadget in favor of a more functional model. The fashion-conscious among us may still opt to carry, and be seen carrying, the new Chocolate phone.
In fact, that seems to be exactly what's happening. LG reports that in the first two months, approximately 1.7 million Chocolates have been sold around the globe. Mike Sidwell, GSM Sales and Marketing Director for LG Electronics says:

"The Chocolate phone is for the discerning customer who views mobile phones as a bold fashion statement." He went on to attribute the phone's success to "a combination of excellent design, clever marketing and proactive sales strategy."

My questions are these:
1. Knowing what you know about the Chocolate phone, would you purchase it anyway because it's the latest in fashionable electronic gadgets, has been 'cleverly marketed and proactively sold'?
2. Or would you opt to purchase a phone with more/better features that are more conducive to your personal and professional needs?
3. How much would you be swayed by the marketing hype?
4. And do you think the Chocolate phone measures up to all of the hype it's getting?
Should sales and marketing be used to make new products look sexy, or should they be grounded in true brand/product values? What spells success for the long term?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ted Mininni is president of Design Force, Inc. (www.designforceinc.com), a leading brand-design consultancy to consumer product companies (phone: 856-810-2277). Ted is also a regular contributor to the MarketingProfs blog, the Daily Fix.