Shifting Trends In Customer Ownership Between Wireless Carriers And Phone Makers

from the pendulum-swinging... dept

Nearly a year ago we had a post where we discussed the fact that many shoppers on the market for a mobile phone service focused on what phone they wanted more than what service provider they wanted. So, if they wanted a certain Nokia phone, their choices of service providers was limited to those who sold that particular phone. A few months later we looked at how the carriers should respond to this and one of the predictions was that carriers would start to focus increasingly on white-label phones where smaller, lesser known device manufacturers would build phone handsets to spec and brand them with the carriers name. It appears that's exactly what's happening. The carriers have been doing their best to take the customer ownership back from the handset makers, and it appears to be working. More and more people identify their phone by the brand of the service provider, rather than the handset maker. Of course, the article uses Nokia and Motorola as the example cases of the big name handset makers likely to lose out - and back it up with Nokia's poor earnings. However, the story was written before Motorola posted very impressive earnings due to their handset sales taking off again. Maybe this is one battle that isn't over yet.


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    Director Mitch, Apr 21st, 2004 @ 9:23am

    Cellphone Branding

    Mot's comeback is partly getting their supply chain in order (finally getting their imaging phones out there) as well as cozying back up with the distributors (carriers), where the pendulum seems to be swinging. So I think Mot's case isn't a counter-example so much as them figuring out what is going on and taking the right steps.

    The branding issue in the cellphone space will be interesting to watch as these - like other consumer electronics - start becoming commoditized. I did a entry on this (and the same business week article) yesterday.

     

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    Doug, Apr 21st, 2004 @ 11:25am

    White label phones help?

    I must have missed something. If we start with
    many shoppers on the market for a mobile phone service focused on what phone they wanted
    how do wireless providers think that those customers will flock to them if they offer
    white-label phones where smaller, lesser known device manufacturers would build phone handsets to spec and brand them with the carriers name.
    If the customer wants a Nokia brand phone, why would offering them a Cingular brand phone be the way to attract them?

    Or is there an expectation that the white-labeled phones would actually get reputations superior to the name brands, where someone might actually want a Cingular phone over a Nokia or a Motorola?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2004 @ 4:57pm

    WHY????

    Once again... If the carriers would all use the same system it wouldn't be a problem.

    The customer could pick any phone they wanted, and any service (read carrier) they wanted to go with it.

    Instead you end up with a crappy phone or a crappy service, or more likely, both.

    I guess the frequency issue (US military owns the freq's that the rest of the world uses) would get in the way, but I can't imagine that its too expensive that they can't just put all 3 different GSM frequencies in all phones.

     

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