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August 4, 2014

Bad news for Microsoft and Nokia? Consumers don’t like colourful phones

UK youths also most interested in black phones.

By Ben Sullivan

Black is the new black, according to a study of mobile phone users that found they prefer it to any other colour.

A recent study from the Wireless Device Lab at Strategy Analytics surveying consumers in the US, UK, France, Germany and China found over half of respondents in the UK and France rated black as the most preferred colour for their next mobile phone, compared to 45% or more respondents in Germany and the US, and 38% in China.

The results could put a spanner in the works for firms like Microsoft Devices and Nokia, which have built a fleet of smartphones recently in a whole range of colours, covering most of the spectrum – apart from black. Microsoft managed to shift 5.8 million Nokia Lumia phones from April to June 30, compared to the 35.2 million iPhone sales from Apple.

The new plethora of Lumia smartphones come in many different primary colours, and Apple’s iPhone 5C is also marketed as a colourful counterpart.

Interest in a black phone has decreased since 2012 in the US and since 2010 in Western Europe. Conversely interest in other coloured phones and, most notably, for white, has risen in both regions since 2010.

Monica Wong, analyst and report author, said: "In all countries males show a much stronger preference for a black phone than females. Mature consumers in France, Germany and China showed slightly greater interest in black than youth in these countries, while in the UK, youth showed most interest in a black phone. Interest in this colour dropped most significantly with decreasing age in China. Further, while the greatest interest in color by mobile phone brand was for black, many brands showed above average interest for other color choices."

However, the research does show that it is worthwhile for manufacturers to offer a choice of colours, as they could poach fickle colour-lovers who may otherwise choose another brand purely based on the colours they offer.

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Paul Brown, Director Wireless Device Lab, said: "Handset manufacturers should continue to provide multiple color options for consumers to choose when purchasing a new phone. Introducing a variety of color options for a mobile phone provides the consumer with a more distinct and customised phone, with many finding interest in customization options such as that offered by the Moto X."

Pie
Exhibit 1.1: Colour Preference – US in 2014, courtesy Strategy Analytics

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