Fresh designs for mobile market
HANOVER, Germany (CNN) -- After years of resisting, Nokia has finally decided to launch a range of "clam-shell" mobile phones in response to demand from consumers.
In the highly competitive mobile phone market, companies are increasingly turning to design in search of an advantage over their rivals.
This month's CeBIT technology fair in Hanover, Germany, sees many of them going head-to-head with the latest generation of phones designed to tempt users into swapping their current handsets for something more akin to a portable multimedia device.
Almost every new phone can now take pictures, record video, play computer games as well as performing more basic telephonic duties.
And with so many to choose from, creating a phone that looks good is one way to make sure your model stands out from the crowd.
"Five years ago, a new design was not good enough or not important enough but now up to 80 or 90 percent of importance of design has been emphasized for launching a new product," Samsung designer Harry Choi told CNN.
Samsung's newest product, the SCH-V770, blurs the boundaries between phones and cameras by looking as much like the latter as the former.
And with a seven megapixel resolution, it also has more than twice the photo definition of a standard digital camera.
Samsung sold 86 million mobile phones last year and hopes to increase that to 100 million in 2005.
Plantronics made a name for itself in 1969 by building the headset via which Neil Armstrong's famous message was conveyed from the moon.
Wireless headset technology may have made giant leaps since then, but back on earth Plantronics CEO Ken Kannappan says it must also look stylish.
"If you have a product that works, but it's not very attractive, you are not providing a total solution," Kannappan told CNN.
Ignoring trends can be costly. Nokia, which dominated the mobile market for several years with basic rectangular models such as the 3210, missed out on a slice of the market for popular flip-phones last year.
It hopes new models such as the folding Nokia 6101 will help it claw back some of that business.
"The Nokia 6101 is an intuitive, easy-to-use fold phone with a compelling feature set. Its classic, sophisticated design nicely blends in with all situations during a busy day," said Nokia's Kai Oistamo.
-- CNN's Mallika Kapur contributed to this report.