Nokia Embraces Fashion…and Brian Eno

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If one were cynical and hard-hearted (which, of course, aren’t terms we’d used to describe ourselves) the year 2006 might be eligible for the subtitle “Revenge of the Music Nerds.” (Also not a term we’d apply to ourselves.) First, Microsoft engages cerebral guitarist and soundscape archtect Robert Fripp to put the mojo into the sounds for Windows Vista; now, Finland’s Nokia is rolling out a phone with its own soundtrack composed by high-profile producer and ambient music pioneer Brian Eno. What’s next? Peter Gabriel contributing sounds to a Bluetooth alarm clock? Fairport Convention re-uniting to promote RFID-bearing jeans?

But we digress.

Finland’s Nokia has announced four new telephone handsets, three are an expansion of the company’s L’Amour Collection designed to appael directly to the high-end, fasion-conscious luxury crowd, while the fourth is a “sensual” phone with its own soundtrack.

The new entries in the L’Amour Collection—the Nokia 7390, 7373, and 7360—derive their design elements from tribal art and ethnic traditions, designed to be offer unique, exquisitely crafted phones ina variety of colors and textures to appeal to the most discerning tastes. While the phone’s form factors are distinctly modern, but sport aspects of embroidery, 3D appliqu&eactue;, tiling, and embossed leather finishes. The 7390 is a fully 3G WCDMA folding phone with a three megapixel camera and music player, available in black Bronze and Powder Pink for &euro450. The 7373 is a compact swivel phone with a two megapixel camera, built-in stereo speakers, and music/video playback capabilities; it’ll be available in three colors (bronze black, powder pink, and black chrome) and run about €350. Rounding out the new entries, the 7360 will feature leather and transparent surfaces, feature an integrated camera and FM tuner, MMS, and Nokia Xpress Audio Messaging. The 7360 will come in black chrome and powder pink for about €200. All models should be available in Europe “this fall” and may make it to North American markets thereafter.

Pretty much in the same league, the Nokia 8800 Sirocco Edition is being billed as “sensual by nature, intuitively beautiful by design,” and features an organically-derived shape which “perfectly matches” the human hand. (Who’s hand would that be, anyway?) More amusingly, the phone features an otherworldly “sonic texture” created by ambient music innovator Brian Eno: in pop circles, Eno is best known as one of the prime movers behind Roxy Music and a key force in the production team that’s turned Irish band U2 into a worldwide phenomenon, but he’s also regarded as one of the fathers of ambient music. The 8800 Sirocco Edition features a two megapixel camera, a sapphire-coated 262,000-color display, and stainless steel covers. But get ready: all that high-quality Eno AAC audio apparently carries a price: the 8800 Sirocco Edition is available in Europe now at an estimated price of €1000.

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