Friday, 30 September 2005 10:00

Kerri-Anne's simple spruik for Vodafone


By Angus Kidman

The last time Kerri-Anne Kennerley intersected with the IT industry was during her ill-fated and improbable stint as a director of the long-departed dotcom disaster LibertyOne. The daytime TV host seemed decidedly more at home today with her latest technology gig: spruiking the Vodafone Simply range of mobiles.

Vodafone is pushing the new $249 phones at what it claims is the under-served market of over-35s who only want basic telephony and texting functions on their mobiles. "This phone is for people who -- wait for it -- want to make a phone call," Kennerley told assembled journalists during a brunch function at the ECQ Bar in Sydney's Circular Quay, where the harbour views were only slightly marred by howling winds outside. "Over 70 per cent of Australians aged 35 plus don't need a camera, MP3 player or Internet browser, yet a majority of phones have this function," she added, working without the benefit of cue cards.

Between mocking her penchant for long, booze-fuelled lunches and her somewhat chequered singing career, Kennerley presented herself as entirely representative of the Simply target market. Having struggled with previous phones -- many gifts from her husband, eager to track her down at yet another lunch -- "I managed to get this one in use in about 2.5 minutes," she said.

Vodafone Australia marketing manager Graham Christie (who did need a few notes for his presentation) said that there was a potential market of 4 million Australian buyers. The Simply brand, which goes on sale from next week in Vodafone stores, Big W, Dick Smith and Australia post, has already launched in nine markets worldwide, with another nine due by Christmas.

The two initial release phones, both manufactured by Sagem, feature larger-than-average keys and screens, external volume and lock controls and a clear display of the user's own number. Further models from other manufacturers will follow next year, Christie said.

Kennerley's comment on the number display function gave an unexpected insight into the trials of her daily life. "It's probably more for blokes, to be quite frank. Guys never remember their number," she said. The bubbly blonde is also a fan of the oversized display, as she needs glasses for reading but rarely wears them when using her mobile. "I've sent some very strange texts," she confessed.

Asked if she'd like to see the existing models supplemented with some other fashion-friendly colours, fuchsia-skirted Kerri-Anne at first played the good corporate mascot. "I like the black one, very stylish." However, it wasn't long before she predictably started lusting after a more designer-centric approach. "Colours are a cute thing. OK, pink . . ."

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Stan Beer


Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.



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