One of the great things about smartphones is that they aren’t gender specific. While a device may look designed specifically for one particular gender more so than another, they are generally created to be purchased by anyone. That probably has more to do with the fact that the manufacturer wants everyone to buy it, and that’s about as straight forward as it gets. It makes the most sense, too. But, we’ve seen in the past as carriers suggest that some phones are meant more for one type of person than another, and when gender gets thrown into the mix, it doesn’t seem to ever really work out.
In fact, some might say that targeting a device to a specific gender works in the opposite way that the carrier intends. When Verizon launched the Palm Pre Plus, a device that’s certainly not gender specific in its aesthetics, the carrier seemed to initially aim the device at women. Ads that showed “mom” “back in the day.” The ads were meant to show that “mom” has upgraded to the 21st century, and she needs a phone with things like smart notifications and simple navigation to get by. Unfortunately, the ads were ridiculous, the message was ignored due to the fact that Verizon was positioning the Palm Pre Plus as a “mom phone,” and the feedback was as mixed as anyone could expect, considering.
Go back a bit further, and you’ve got the launch of Verizon’s first DROID product, the Motorola Droid. The device was certainly targeted at men. The ads for the device were about the “manliest” ads anyone had ever seen, especially for a phone, and Verizon made no qualms about making counter-ads to other devices, positioning them as anything but a “manly” phone. The iPhone was for women, and the Droid was for everyone else, or something close to that. Obviously that didn’t sit well with the majority, and there are plenty of women with the original Droid that are plenty happy with the purchase.
So, what is Verizon rumored to be doing now? They’ve got HTC in the game now, as the HTC Bliss is reportedly an Android device for women. Why is it for women? Because there’s supposedly a calorie-counting application pre-loaded, as well as shopping applications. Additionally, accessories like a charm that hangs from the device would notify its owner of missed calls or texts, so the phone doesn’t have to be out all the time. HTC Sense is also supposed to make an appearance, but there’s no word that the popular user interface would see any alterations in the hope to make this a phone for women.
The question I have is why is Verizon still doing this? From seeing and hearing the general flak regarding their previous two major attempts at making a device gender-specific, I can’t see this going well for Verizon. Further, why is this a legitimate strategy for Big Red, and why is HTC jumping on board? After all, launching a device specifically for one market seems like a closed-minded approach, and you’re already limiting your sales right then and there. This isn’t like a teen device that can be used by anyone, no matter their age.
There’s a chance that these gender-specializing ads (and now devices) actually worked, at least as far as Verizon is concerned, and so they’re going to keep it up. There’s no telling when, or even if the HTC Bliss will ever make it to store shelves, but if it does I’m curious to see how Verizon’s ads depict the device, and if they’ll be any better than what we’ve seen in the past. Do you think Verizon should be launching more gender-specific advertisements, let alone a specific device? Let me know in the comments below.