August 08, 2006

Murder by numbers

Today one has been subjected to a revelation of some import. You might call it an epiphany, even. Today one has learnt that The Magnitude Of A Cellphone’s Model Number Bears Little Or No Correlation To The Richness Of Its Features (or, to restate, that Larger Numbers In The Name Do Not Necessarily Mean That The Cellphone Is More Advanced).

One does not like things that are named numerically, for these names are usually strings of largely random digits that one has much trouble remembering. (There might be folks out there who memorize them as a sort of hobby, but for the One that holds about as much charm as being handcuffed to a dead zebra.*)

‘Twas much better in one’s day. As gadgets go we had, for example, the quaintly-named Game Boy. This was followed by the Game Boy Color, which was in turn followed by the Game Boy Advance. What these monikers might lack in linguistic flair, people, they more than make up for in semantic precision. You just knew that the Game Boy Advance was newer, pricier and generally better than the plain ol’ Game Boy. You just knew it.

But now, you don’t know anything. That 2370 might sound like a poor man’s version of the 8846, but for all you know it’s the hottest thing around. You smirk when a colleague speaks of his 1002, quite sure that the 9084 you secretly plan to buy is better by an order of magnitude, until the chap informs you that the 1002 can operate his washing machine and generally do everything short of writing his blogposts and will only be available next month.

But let us get all incisive-shincisive. Let us delve into the psychology of the chaps in the marketing department. What in the world were they thinking? One might not know much about marketing (not that there’s much to know in the first place) but one does understand that brand recall plays some sort of role. We know the routine – initial media hype, glitzy product launch (extra points for gyaan-spouting Bollywood starlet), repeated advertisement during saas-bahu soaps. All intended to enhance B.R. Okay. But. But. How, pray, does one recall a brand name that reads like a blooming Sudoku puzzle? And if you absolutely must take your brand names from the telephone directory, can you at least ensure that the numbers go in ascending order? You know, like, small to big?

The latest of the lot is apparently the N85 or some such. Let us not dwell on the fact that this sounds more like a nightly bus service than the state of the art in mobile communication. Rather, let us hope that the next offering isn’t called the F15.

* Do bear with the analogies – you might even find an original one here someday.