5th Avenue Appeal: Nokia Sells $86,000 Phone (As Well as the Basic Clamshell) at New Store in NY
Take a quick stroll along Manhattan’s most famous shopping blocks this weekend and you’ll see: this ain’t your Mama’s 5th Avenue...fashion’s gone tech. CE Manufacturers are showcasing their most premium products in highly-designed new retail operations in the same block span as Tiffany’s, Louis Vuitton, and Bergdorf Goodman. Last May, Apple opened a one-of-a-kind retail slash tourist site right at the Southeast corner of Central Park, across from the Plaza Hotel. Tomorrow, Nokia follows suit, opening it’s fifth retail outlet in the world, the Nokia Store at 5th Ave and 57th Street, just a block away from both Apple and the Madison Avenue SonyStyle store.
The latest Nokia store (the company’s second in the U.S., as a branch in Chicago opened last June) features some new ideas in retail design: glass walls that change colors, a second-floor lounge, and wall-to-wall screens with product information which appears only when a customer touches a product (vastly reducing the amount of signage in the store). Those screens are programmed to run futuristic but inviting images, from puppies and kittens to paper airplanes. “We didn’t want this to feel like just a guy’s store,” says Cliff Crosbie, who’s in charge of Nokia’s global retail division. “From the wooden floor to the colors on the walls, this should feel warm and also constantly different every time people come in.”
Crosbie says doing direct retail is a way for Nokia to make the public aware of products that America’s cellphone carriers have not picked up en masse. The phone featured right at the front door is Nokia’s 8801 (curently offered by T-Mobile), a shiny $649.00 model with what Nokia calls “laser-cut curves.” Also offered at the new store, is Nokia’s Vertu line, custom handsets ranging from $4000 to near $100,000 that are made with nontraditional cellphone materials like diamonds, white gold, and leather. Those top-of-the-line bar phones come with a special “concierge button” on the side, just what a 5th Avenue shopper could use to summon his/her driver at the end of a spree.