Monday, July 17, 2006

Sidekick 3 Getting Teenager Love

Hey, wait a minute, the Sidekick 3 isn't just for teenagers is it? Check out this article about how hot our little friend is with the teen market. Here's the LINK

14 Comments:

At 5:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1st...

Link isn't working.

 
At 7:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/tech/article/0,2777,DRMN_23910_4848924,00.html

 
At 7:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/tech/article/
0,2777,DRMN_23910_4848924,00.html

 
At 7:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nik Lulla, a high school senior in Eagleville, Pa., near Philadelphia, swaps out his cell phones on a whim. He carries a Motorola Razr, an ultrathin metal phone that is so popular he considers it almost passé, and a T-Mobile Sidekick 2, a minicomputer with instant messaging and e-mail features. Sometimes he throws a Motorola V551 and a Nokia 3120 into the mix.
Lulla, 17, uses the Razr because his mother bought it for him - and because it was cool a few months ago - while the Sidekick is "just for show."

"A cell phone to me is like a new toy," he said. "Everyone has one, but some people's are better than others."

Lulla is more phone-happy than most people, but he is part of a young, tech-savvy crowd that cell- phone companies are eager to attract. The companies are offering them special plans, exclusive phones and services such as games and streaming video that have not taken off with older customers.

According to a survey conducted by Jupiter Research last December, almost half of young people ages 13 to 16 own cell phones. Many companies are competing for the attention of this market. But right now the object of lust among many of Lulla's peers is the T-Mobile Sidekick 3, which hit the market last month.

The Sidekick 3 costs a hefty $300 for T-Mobile subscribers with a two-year contract, as well as an additional $30 a month for data service. But that hasn't stopped the incessant chatter about it in chat rooms and on message boards.

"The first big teen phone was the Razr," Lulla said. "Everyone has one. So now it's the Sidekick 3."

The new Sidekick is smaller than its predecessor and has a better camera. It also has a unique scroll wheel that lights up in different colors. While it has some organizer- type features, the Sidekick 3 is designed to make it easy to send e-mail and shoot off quick messages to the phones or PCs of friends.

"The core users are young people or the young at heart," said Chidam Chidambaram, vice president of marketing for T-Mobile.

Most teenagers will have trouble persuading their parents to pay for a Sidekick or other high-end phone.

"Sixty percent of teens are on their parents' plan," said Julie Ask, a mobile-communications analyst for Jupiter Research. The parents, she said, "usually make their decisions when a carrier is running a special or making a special offer for families."

But many young people are not going to be happy lugging around the same boring phone as their parents, and many have the cash to make their own choices.

"These people don't want their mom and dad's cell-phone company," said Rick Heineman, marketing director of Helio, a recent entrant in the race to grab teenage and young-adult subscribers.

Chasing the market

Among the major carriers, T-Mobile has been the most aggressive about pursuing the youth market. Several smaller youth-oriented carriers buy network capacity from the more established cellular companies. For example, Helio, a partnership between EarthLink and SK Mobile of South Korea, connects its calls over Sprint's nationwide network.

The smaller carriers often focus on pay-as-you-go plans, letting teenagers purchase blocks of minutes and even buy ring tones and other digital frippery for their friends as gifts. There are also standard monthly plans that offer a set number of minutes, with charges for extra time.

One of the first and best-known of these carriers is Boost Mobile. A division of Sprint Nextel, the service features the familiar Nextel walkie-talkie "chirp" that allows users to send voice messages to each other with the click of a button.

Neil Lindsay, vice president of product development for Boost, estimates that 65 percent of its network traffic is "chirp" messaging. Customers pay $1 a day for unlimited voice messages, and if they do not send a message on a particular day they are not charged.

Boost's Motorola phones range from $50 to $300 after mail-in rebates. "Re-Boost" cards with additional minutes are available at 28,000 locations, including 4,000 cash machines in the United States, and come in $20, $30 and $50 increments. Boost users can also add minutes to their phones with a credit card by dialing customer service.

Boost customers can send push- to-talk messages to Nextel and Sprint customers, and there is a reduced calling rate of 10 cents a minute between Sprint Nextel and Boost subscribers, regardless of what time the call is made, down from peak-hour pricing of 20 cents a minute.

Boost's phone lineup includes the Motorola i875, a clamshell phone with video recorder, MP3 player and walkie-talkie functions.

Its least expensive offering, the i415, has a speakerphone and not much else. As with most pay-as- you-go carriers, the service requires no credit checks or contracts.

Keeping in touch

One unusual feature of the service is Boost Hookt, which allows Boost subscribers to post profiles and connect with others in pursuit of romance or friendship.

Anglophiles may enjoy the Cool Britannia flair of Virgin Mobile, another pay-as-you-go service. Virgin's offerings, which make use of T-Mobile's network, are focused more on text messaging, and its latest phone, the $149 Switch_Back, includes a full keyboard for short text messages, e-mail and AOL Instant Messenger.

Virgin Mobile offers "Top-Up" cards through many retailers and also offers monthly plans for heavy users.

The cheapest plan, 100 minutes a month, is $15, while the most expensive includes 600 minutes for $60 as well as unlimited night and weekend calling. The phones feature fast Internet browsing for an added fee of about $1 a day. Virgin also offers a program allowing subscribers to earn extra minutes of talk time by watching commercials online and responding to surveys.

Virgin's chief marketing officer, Howard Handler, said the service offered a life lesson on the value of a dollar. "Teens and young adults get that flexibility that they yearn for, while paying as you go helps teens learn financial responsibility," he said.

"Plus, parents avoid the possibility of getting a $600 phone bill due to overages."

Another small carrier, Amp'd Mobile, is pursuing the hip-hop crowd with a full complement of downloadable videos, songs and games. Running on Verizon's network, Amp'd offers three exclusive phones, the media-rich Hollywood and the less expensive Jet and Angel models.

The Hollywood, which includes a 1.3-megapixel camera and music player, costs $149 on the pay-as- you-go plan. Jet and Angel include a more basic camera and cost $99 after rebate. The phones are considerably cheaper when purchased with a monthly plan: $29 for the Jet and Angel, $49 for the Hollywood.

Amp'd allows easy access to downloadable media and games. While the standard phone functions are all there, the interface highlights the various video offerings, including sports, music videos and news.

Pay-as-you-go vouchers for Amp'd are sold in increments of $10, up to $50, and calls are 10 cents a minute. Downloads such as songs and video clips cost about $2 each, and you can purchase subscriptions to specific types of downloads on a monthly basis.

Games include old-school favorites such as Mega Man as well as a number of racing and sports- themed titles.

Helio, which is aiming for a more affluent audience and does not have a pay-as-you-go plan, offers two phones. The Hero, a $275 black phone with a 2-megapixel camera, has a screen that slides up to reveal its keypad. The Kickflip, which comes in white, opens like a pocketknife and costs $250.

Helio offers 1,000 minutes for $85 a month, which includes unlimited data service, video messaging and text messaging. Some video, audio and game downloads cost extra.

Perhaps Helio's most important feature is that it offers a mobile version of MySpace, the popular social networking and music site. The Helio version displays the MySpace "friends" page and can handle streaming audio, just like the standard Web version.

This is not a feature that is likely to interest Mom and Dad - making it all the more crucial for teenagers.

 
At 6:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't get it... I am not a teenager, nor am I in my 20's or 30's and I own a SK3..upgraded from SK2. I got the SK for its use of the complete address book, e-mail, IM, other functions...I don't want to be connected to my job 24 hours a day so the blackberry and PDA was out of the questioned. The SK might be geared to teenages and young adults but other people are using the SK. Sorry it is not just for the young! :)

 
At 10:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a deaf/hard of hearing individual who got the SK3 because it helps me keep in contact with family and friends. It also has the TTY phone service. But I mostly text message, e-mail, and Instant Message from it. Iam 40yrs old so ya the SK3 isnt just for the young people but for the deaf community as well.

 
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