Firms launch new gear to revive home phone market
As sales slide for traditional home phones, several companies, including Netgear and Uniden, plan to shake up the market with innovative devices, according to BusinessWeek
The new phones allow users to make low-priced Internet calls, view photos and video and browse the Web. Cordless phone sales plunged 12 percent in 2006 to 24 million units, according to NPD Group.
Home phones will also get slimmer and sleeker despite gains in memory and processing power. Many will adopt the look of cell phones and the features of personal computers.
“We've seen the change in cell phones (from clunky bricks to elegant handhelds), and we'll see home phones change the same way," Rich Tosi, president of Uniden America, told BusinessWeek.
The advances come amid a slide in sales of cordless phones as more consumers opt to rely on cell phones for everyday use. Consumers haven’t really had a reason to update their home phone. Santa Clara, Calif.-based Netgear and Fort Worth, Texas-based Uniden hope these new phones will lead consumers to upgrade.
The biggest innovation will be the ability to place a call over the Internet as well as over a traditional land line. Services such as eBay’s Skype allow consumers to make cheap or free Web-based calls.
Windows Live Messenger
phone allows users to send and receive instant messages and broadcast and receive video calls. Uniden sells the phone through a partnership with Microsoft as well as at such retail outlets as RadioShack.
According to The List database, Netgear uses Los Gatos, Calif.-based Sterling Communications for public relations work. The company doesn’t have an announced relationship with any creative agencies. Netgear hired a new marketing chief back in October (WinmoEdge article
). According to Nielsen Monitor-Plus, Netgear spent about $300,000 on measured marketing in 2005, all on national magazines.
Dallas-based Moroch handles some creative and other duties for Uniden. New York-based Ogilvy Public Relations oversees their PR. The company spent about $2.4 million on marketing, almost all on national magazine buys.
Aiming to revive the home-phone market is a daunting task, and these new devices will require some savvy marketing to generate interest from consumers. Agencies with experience launching tech products should approach the executives identified below with what your agency can bring to the table. The big market for these phones are low-tech types. How can your agency make one of these phones appeal to a typical consumer whose old cordless phone breaks?
The Holy Grail of this marketing would be convincing consumers who have “dropped off the grid” (i.e., no longer have a land-line phone) to return to home-based phones. Sole use of a cell phone does have its drawbacks (poor call quality inside, lack of additional phones), so the right campaign could probably create consumer demand. Perhaps these drawbacks aren’t enough to encourage a home-phone return, but the added ability to make free long-distance or video calls could push consumers over the top.
4500 Great America Parkway
Santa Clara, CA 95054
Director of Product Marketing – Consumer Products
Chief Marketing Officer
Uniden America Corporation
4700 Amon Carter Boulevard
Fort Worth, TX 76155-2207
Senior Director, Marketing