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May 2-8, 2007

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Dial a Clue

By Joseph Rosenfeld

CELL PHONES may be a must-have, but who would have guessed 20 years ago that they would morph into haute couture hand-sets? The "cool" factor of being able to talk on a cell phone was put on ice a long time ago. Now cell phone stylin' is just as important as the Brioni suit he's wearing or the Marc Jacobs bag she's carrying. Most of the media who attended this year's Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA) trade show in Orlando agreed: cell phones are now all about fashion.

The best way for service providers to attract and compete for new consumers is to offer phones that complement everyone's personalities. Even the most techno-crazed can go from geek to chic with the appropriately chosen phone. Last December, I was in desperate need of a new phone. So my friend Sharon accompanied me to our mutual cell phone provider's retail store where we hemmed and hawed over the options. The helpful sales person tried exciting me about the bevy of available technology options, while I maintained that I only cared about making and receiving calls and that the phone had to look like me. I sold myself on a cool red Motorola RAZR phone that she brought out of the back room because red was the best of the available colors for me, it was the hot new color and also because I figured that fewer people would choose that color. After all, I may be an image consultant who is up on the latest fashions, but I'm also an individualist. Not just any phone will do for me or for you.

Both the hand-set makers and service providers know this, and they are banking on our desires to shell out the cash for a bit of cell phone cache. For instance, LG Electronics Inc tapped Prada, the Italian luxury goods purveyor, to produce a whole new cell phone experience that affects the aesthetics and the interface. The LG KE850's black touch-screen phone is slender, sleek and slick, and comes with an exclusive leather case. Very Prada, indeed. Racy iconic Italian designers Dolce & Gabbana and Versace transformed cell phones into sexy objects, too. Dolce & Gabbana's liquid gold RAZR phone, produced in limited quantity, manages to capture the same spirit as their eye- and crotch-popping belt buckles. Donnatella Versace's phone designs for Samsung look more like compact cases than cell phones. As the customization craze of iPods has proven, consumers are interested in personalizing their accessories. The cell phone fashion craze is here to stay.

Cell Etiquette

While your stylish cell phone may get you noticed, displaying courteous etiquette while using it will have people remembering you for what's most important. Being polite is always in style.

  • Do not answer or make calls during a date, interview or important meeting with co- workers or subordinates, or while in an elevator, waiting in line at a store or bank, or at theaters, museums, libraries or cemeteries.
  • Power down or put your phone on vibrate during meetings, meals, performances and in houses of worship.
  • If you forget to minimize your phone's sound, do not answer the phone. Hit the "end call" key several times and then power off the phone until it is OK to turn it back on.
  • If you experience a bad connection, resist the urge to raise your voice, as the other person may not understand why you are yelling. Call again when you obtain a stronger signal.
  • When you are with a group of people and your phone rings, step away from the group to take a call. Maintain a 10-foot personal zone while in a public place when using a phone.
  • If you are spending time with a friend and a call comes through, ask if it is OK with that person that you take a call before doing so. Don't make your friend feel less important than the call you are receiving, and keep that call brief.
  • If you might be expecting an urgent call, let the person you're meeting with know about this before the meeting begins and then politely excuse yourself if the call comes through.
  • If you must be on the phone in public, moderate your voice and don't get emotional.

  • Joseph Rosenfeld, AICI, CIP, the nation's only male certified image professional, polishes the appearances of professional men and businesses and is based in downtown San Jose. Contact him at: [email protected]

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