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Cool tech gets down with the kids

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Author: WildC@rd

Social trends and the zeitgeist are more important than how good a new technology actually is when it comes to what consumers buy, according to Gartner. At Gartner's co-located mobile & wireless and enterprise & networking conferences in London, the analyst house pointed to Apple as an example of a business whose success can be attributed to how firmly it keeps its finger on the pulse of cutting-edge cool. Gartner VP and analyst Nick Jones said: "Technology and society aren't separate things. They evolve together. They're co-dependent." This is reflected in the fact technology users often come up with new applications for the tech they adopt - such as mobile pre-pay, which is used as an alternative currency in some parts of the world, or text messages being used as a dumping tool by teenage girls. Jones added: "Understanding society is vital to success of products and services." It's not necessarily about having the best technology either because people buy things for emotional - rather than rational - reasons. And as technology choice proliferates, social factors are becoming increasingly important, according to Jones. He said: "People do not spend $25,000 on a limited edition Nokia Vertu phone because of its voice quality. "Apple understands this really well. You walk round London you know who is using an iPod - because of those little white headphones. Everyone using an iPod is advertising Apple." Technology businesses need to monitor and be aware of such social trends if they hope to succeed - taking advantage of blogs, virtual worlds and online search summaries to help keep up with the kids - he said. In this respect, Jones said cyber crime can be a barometer of social dissatisfaction - pointing to illegal music downloads as an example of younger generations' mass dissatisfaction with restrictive digital distribution models. But it's not all about youth. Businesses must understand all the different demographics that make up their customer base - whether they be digital natives or techno refuseniks, said Jones citing the example of mobile operator Nokia using "massively sophisticated social segmentation" to analyse its customer base. Jones added: "If your target customer demographic plays about in Second Life, maybe you need to be in Second Life."
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