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Russell Simmons Brings Hip-Hop to CTIA
Posted: 24-Mar-2004 [Source: CTIA]

[Hip-hop icon Russell Simmons brought his message to the CTIA audience about listening to the young and hip in order to develop products that will succeed on a mass scale.]

CTIA Atlanta -- Russell Simmons has always had his ear close to the ground in terms of popular culture, and now he's urging the mobile entertainment industry to listen its consumers. Simmons, the visionary behind the hip-hop explosion, told conference attendees at CTIA's WIRELESS 2004 that every business has its core customers and that "in your industry, it's the young, cool customer. Period. And if you speak to them, in their language, then they will tell the rest of the world, and if they don't like what you're doing it can be very difficult to move anything in any meaningful numbers."

Simmons shared his thoughts formed from years at the forefront of the hip-hop phenomenon as Chairman and CEO of Rush Communications and Co-founder and Chairman of Def Jam Records. In those capacities he has represented some of the biggest names in rap music, including Jay-Z, DMX, LL Cool J and Run DMC. He's also been a successful television producer and fashion designer.

Simmons told attendees that his career, like the mobile entertainment field, is "a journey of service," and reinforced the importance of customer awareness to the wireless industry. "It's very important to connect yourself with the consumer. Too many people are working in a vacuum and separating themselves because (they think) they're smarter than the consumer. But the truth is (the consumer) is smart and wants you to talk to them directly."

And just what is it that consumers want? To Simmons, it's "all music, all of the time and you guys can be a big part of that. How do you monetize that? It's not what you want, not what works for you, but what they want and I think a lot of people are hard-headed about that." Simmons said he appreciates the importance of aesthetics in new product development, but emphasized that functionality should always be the paramount concern.

Juno Cho, President of LG Infocomm, USA, and Ed Zander, Chairman and CEO of Motorola, joined Simmons in making keynote addresses. Both highlighted the enormous strides being made in providing consumers with unprecedented mobility, and gave glimpses of a not-so-distant future when consumers could perform such tasks as adjusting their home air conditioners, turning on their kitchen appliances, or even taking inventory of items in their refrigerators, all via wireless devices.


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