eventswatch07

A Wireless -- but Hands-on -- Event for Latest High-Tech Gadget

Nokia and Wired Magazine Preach Wi-Fi to Harried Commuters

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Event: Wired/Nokia On-the-Fly Wi-Fi
Date: June 16, 2007
Marketer: Nokia and Wired magazine
Venue: Union Square Park

Normally a place where commuters hustle through on their way to the subway or people in colorful jackets explain the latest global issue, Union Square went high tech last week. Nokia, with the help of Wired magazine, spent one sunny Friday afternoon teaching people about the advantages of the wireless web while plugging Nokia's new gadget, the N800 Internet Tablet.
A Nokia 'trained ambassador' gives a demo of the new N800 Internet Tablet.
A Nokia 'trained ambassador' gives a demo of the new N800 Internet Tablet. Credit: Emily Tan

Curious PC users
A white tent near the south end of the park housed lounge chairs, endless copies of Wired's latest issue and all the free bottled water and granola bars you could handle. At one corner, people could take time from their busy work day to catch a 10-minute massage. But most came to try out the Nokia Tablet. Many, already lugging laptop cases slung over their shoulders, couldn't resist stopping by to try out an alternative to the typical PC notebook. Eleven "trained ambassadors" showed off their Nokia knowledge by giving one-on-one demos and allowing people to try the gadget for themselves.

But the event, which was held in San Francisco the week before, was meant to do more than promote the new product; it was a way for the sponsors to tell people about Wi-Fi, a technology that allows users of laptops and other devices wirelessly access the internet in public places. Wireless hot spots have been in existence for almost four years, and Wired wanted people to take advantage of the free wireless connection. "We're educating people on Wi-Fi," said Jodi Blea, promotions manager, Wired. "People aren't up to date about what it can do."

Besides trying out the device, visitors could sign up for a chance to win one of three Nokia N800 Internet Tablets. And as the day rolled on, people were more than enthused to fill out entry forms, especially after testing out the device.

"I think anytime you can touch and feel a product, it's worth so much more," said Jim Richardson, associate publisher-marketing, Wired.

Getting the word out
Not too many people outside the web-junkie set knew of the N800 Tablet's release or that it was already available at Nokia's flagship store in Midtown. But after the event, the device, as well as the Nokia name, resonated more in people minds. "It's a good way to get the Wired and Nokia names out there," said Sam Homburger, a college student who was helping to show the Tablet to consumers. "There's music, a lounge, and a very chill environment. I think it's a big success."

Although many consumers developed an interest in the Tablet, the price tag (around $375) stopped some in their tracks.

"After trying it, I like the idea of it. If you don't want to pay for the internet cafe, this is a good alternative," said Ali Ra, a Detroit native. "When I have the money, maybe I'd get one. But right now, I can't even afford a cellphone."