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Nokia Mobile Phones climbed to the No. 2 position in cellular phones by calling up a strategy focusing on the general consumer.

Leader Motorola continues to aim mainly at business users but Finnish-based Nokia is targeting everyman with unprecedented steps-becoming title sponsor of college football's Sugar Bowl and introducing the category to network TV advertising exposure.

The idea to target a general audience is that of Nokia Mobile Phones President Paul Chellgren, 38.

"The future is the mass market," he says. "We make a consumer product whereas the competition makes technology products."

Nokia carved out its mass-market strategy about two years ago.

"It was a year-and-a-half decision that was made in the fall of 1993," recalls Mr. Chellgren. "We really looked at the mass market. It wasn't one meeting. We wanted to simplify what we were doing."

Mr. Chellgren's new direction was clearly signaled during the Christmas-holiday period, when the Nokia 100 was introduced. It was the engine of its 1994 growth.

As a result, Nokia's share of portable handheld cellular phones sales in the top 10 markets through most of last year rose to 16.1%, according to telecommunications analyst Herschel Shosteck, up from only 0.8% just five years ago.

Subsequent products and advertising-using a "connecting people" theme-have aimed at driving home the simplicity of Nokia's telephones.

Although the company recently initiated a review of its ties to Tampa, Fla.-based agency Peak, Barr, Petralia & Biety, Mr. Chellgren says Nokia's essential direction isn't changing: It will remain the company promoting user-friendly telephones at a reasonable price.

"We spent a lot of time developing our core concept of making telephones easy to use," he says.

Consumers appear to be making the connection.

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