Nokia's nifty new store
Nokia takes a second step in its U.S. retail strategy tomorrow, opening a new, high-gloss store on 57th street in Manhattan. Vigilant Browser readers will recall that we noted approvingly the opening of the Finish cellphone maker's first store, in Chicago, in late June. Well, on our lunch break earlier in the week, we scored a pre-opening tour of the new, narrow-but-vertical Manhattan venue, and we can say emphatically that it beats your typical Radio Shack.
The transluscent, plexiglass walls deliver a multimedia lightshow synchronized with music ranging from the meditative to industrial. Lining these walls are the goods: pretty much every Nokia handset available, from the heavily-promoted 8801 to diamond-encrusted $44,000 Vertu models made by Swiss watchmakers outside of London. (For all the gory detail, see Mobilemedia's blow-by-blow description.)
Why Nokia would throw down the big midtown real-estate bucks for stores that only a tiny fraction of the world will ever see? No doubt, there's executive ego involved, and the irrational desire to keep up with Steve Jobs' gleaming Apple stores, not to mention the flashy Samsung, LG, and Sony outlets all within a stone's throw.
But there is also some sound business logic at work here. Cellphones are getting increasingly complex - are they phone or computer or camera or MP3 player or all of the above? So it's helpful to have a refuge where all of a customer's dumb questions can be answered by a (presumably) well-trained, non-commission-driven sales rep. While the store may not see a significant percentage of all Nokia handset owners, it will appeal disproportionately to the early-adopters and the power users, in other words, the opinion influencers. So consider this the trickle down theory of retail, and go check out those Vertu handsets.
i've been reading about Nokia opening these retail stores. our local 'second tier' mall opened a Nokia store about a year ago. it's fun to look at the various phones, without the Verizon, T-Mobile, Cingular people breathing down your neck. but it's still confusing about which phones are available from which carriers and what the various costs would be.
Nokia has been slow to adopt models in the US that consumers want to use. Early on they did have a few models that were doing well until the Razor showed up. That being said.. they are coming HARD in the US markets and stores like the one in NY will make consumers finally realize the power Nokia has behind its brand. Go NOKIA!!!
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