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Design Roundtable: Why Do Cell Phones Go Out of Fashion so Quickly?

Once again we’ve got our favorite design experts gathered around our virtual roundtable, talking about cell phones. Here’s how our design roundtables work: We choose the topic, put forth a few questions to our panel …

Once again we’ve got our favorite design experts gathered around our virtual roundtable, talking about (but not on) cell phones. Here’s how our design roundtables work: We choose the topic, put forth a few questions to our panel, and bring the most provocative answers back to you. This week, with more details about the Palm Pre and Monday’s iPhone G3 S announcement it seemed a good time to ponder some issues about our love affair with mobile. Today’s question: Why do cell phones go out of fashion so quickly?

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Ken Carbone, CarboneSmolan: They follow the speed of developing technology and new gadget lust. As “must have” features are offered we see tempting new ways to simplify life. However, let’s face it, there’s also status to owning the latest and a stigma to having the old.

Ravi Sawhney, Chairman, RKS: Because they are fashion. Yes, they serve other purposes, but so do clothes, sunglasses, watches, and other items more typically considered fashion.

Mark Dziersk, VP Design, Brandimage: There is no stylistic need to replace a cell phone. Look at the Lamy pen, a truly beautiful example from my post about sustainable business models last week–the phone could be upgraded. The reason people switch them out so often is because they are perceived as “free.” The way they are sold hides the fees in the use contract, that provides for a “sure, why not?” attitude instead of a “let me think this over” experience. Also, because many of them are badly designed. By “styling” them every six months, we get the new trend that’s popular every six months–and not all of that design vision is good.

Related:
Design Roundtable: How Have Cell Phones Changed Our Behavior?
Design Roundtable: How Can Cell Phones Improve the World?

Are you a slave to mobile fashion? Are you ditching your old phone for a Palm Pre or new iPhone? Let us know in the comments.

About the author

Alissa is a design writer for publications like Fast Company, GOOD and Dwell who can most often be found in Los Angeles. She likes to walk, ride the bus, and eat gelato.

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