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.


Deepali said...

Nokia and their crazy series scheme to confuse buyers but somehow that doesn't seem to have affected their sales so must be some marketing exceptionality to the rule :|

witnwisdumb said...

Hilarious! Especially the Sudoku gag. However, I have observed that it's not just mobile phones that are assigned weird number names. Several other things are - watches, cars, sports bikes... The trend is to throw in a few letters along with the numbers.

And it appears that the marketing gurus know exactly what they're doing, for the everybody who's hip (especially male hips ) seem to know exactly what a SLK-R171, a SPW1000-2V, or a CBR-1100 XX is.

One in a Billion said...

Deepali: Ah, but let them bring out a model called, say, The Ultimate Communicator, or King of the Airwaves, or even The Precursor To The Commbadge That Was Seen In Later Episodes Of Star Trek - The Next Generation. Then we'll see some real sales.

Witnwisdumb: Yes .. but wristwatch and bike names tend to follow an ascending pattern, no? Roughly. At least not totally random.

And one must disagree with your second point. One hasn't the faintest idea what the CBR-1100 XX might be. And one be an extremely hip male (with distinctly male hips). So there.

Swapna said...

Good One! :)

These days everything has weird names with numbers and letters.

Deepali said...

Ah, but let them bring out a model called, say, The Ultimate Communicator, or King of the Airwaves, or even The Precursor To The Commbadge That Was Seen In Later Episodes Of Star Trek - The Next Generation. Then we'll see some real sales.

Yes. With geeks.



*admits sheepishly* Although I did like Star trek the original version .

Twilight Fairy said...

The numbers usually are code for some series, hence the models might be in ascending order in that series, but not among all the numbers in that brand obviously. For eg. in the Nokia 'N' series, you have N 85, N 90 etc.. in other words ascending. In the 33xx series, you had 3310, 3315 etc. The series differ from each other in terms of features, for eg. bluetooth, camera, multimedia etc.
err...that was a very matter of fact reply, so I shall just slink away before I am asked to solve that sudoku! :p

LAK said...

Sudoku, funnneeeee!
Why not have already recallable names like MIG 21, AK-47 and TIK-20(when I was a kid, all suicides were committed by consumption of last named!)A little "Homework" for you---think up gadget descriptions for above names. eg. TIK-20 "kills" all pesky callers?

One in a Billion said...

Swapna: Indeed .. succintly put! Welcome to the blog.

Deepali: What, only the original version? You don't know what you missed by not watching TNG ..

Twilight: *takes out notebook and scribbles furiously*

LAK: Sigh. Not homework. Everyone seems intent on sending one back to school today.

Nessa said...

hehe :)

The Regular Joe said...

Its cryptology,mate. Beyond us.

Arthur Quiller Couch said...

It's impossible to buy a phone that's just a phone. Damn.

DSK said...

Just when you think the number game couldn’t get worse…

When I was house hunting in Delhi, I assumed (just like any other normal person would) that house # 3345 is right next to house # 3344. Well, it wasn’t. I was positive that I couldn’t be wrong here.

Little did I know that all the odd numbered houses were on one side of the road and all the even numbered houses were on the opposite side. Fancy that!

One in a Billion said...

Nessa: :-)

Regular Joe: True, true .. come to think of it, maybe there's something subliminal hidden within '1180XU'. It just sounds sneaky.

AQC: Indeed, and welcome!

DSK: Ah, that scheme is actually used in many parts of the world .. doesn't make too much sense, but few things do nowadays.

Having said that, it does ensure that all houses with similar numbers are physically near to each other.

the Monk said...

The world has gone crazy, innit?

I wrote a love story. *buries head in sand*

LAK said...

Too busy to write new posts eh? Do come out of hibernation---tho' I'm no one to dictate---I am guilty of non-posting too!

Primalsoup said...

One might not know much about marketing (not that there’s much to know in the first place)


One in a Billion said...

Monk: Well, well. Veni, vidi, commenti.

LAK: Yes, sleeping only twelve hours a day does take its toll ..

Primalsoup: Umm .. erm .. didn't know you still read this blog, Soup ..

Camphor said...

How many "new" "newer" "best" "ultimate" can you append to a series of mobile phones? and did you take a look the recent Game Boy Models?

I would guess that one needs the numbers for the same reason that people memorise long orders to get a simple coffee at starbucks; who would like to read a cell phone named after a list of features anyway?

As much impatience there as in "c u l8r"

One in a Billion said...

Camphor: Ah, but it's possible to be more inventive with names, is it not? Look at Harry Potter curses. Look at WWE superstars.

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