Assignment on Cell Phone Industry
Subject: Finance, Science


The following assignment details cell phone industry’s dominant economic characteristics. Now a day the growth of cell phone industry are increasing rapidly because the cell phone industry is offering unlimited plans in growing numbers. The word cell phone has become a familiar usage across the globe, especially in developed countries. There are some economic dominant features related within the Cell Phone industry. These features are described in below.

Dominant Economic Indicators

1.  Market Size:

The cell phone industry is one of the fastest growths besides the Internet.  Cell phones have gone through a huge change and its market has expanded globally.  Since 1994, the cell phone industry has increased from 24 million to about 182 million in wireless phone and related devices operating in the United States with some 162-million mobile-phone users in the United States alone.

The cell phone market is increasing very fast with today’s ever-emerging technology and innovation in improving cell phones. Today, society is living with advance technology and everyone wants to keep pace with the new technologies.  Cell phone industry is growing larger because it has become a necessity.  Parents are getting mobile phones for their teens because they want to communicate in case of an emergency and the wireless carriers have made it easy to add users to their existing plans.  And carriers are becoming successful in getting parents to expand their plans to include their teens.  This increases buyers and increases market size worldwide.

2.  Scope of Competitive Rivalry:

The cell phone industry has become increasingly larger within the last three years as a result of more affordable cellular phones as well as lower service costs.  Companies are competing in an advance technology and communication sector in which success attracts customers to buy their products and services.  The market is very competitive because they offer the same products and services, but has different physical attributes to the phones and different costs, which buyers have choices to choose from.  Companies want to provide the best products and services to attract buyers by lowering cost and improving products, which makes the cell phone industry very competitive.

Here are the main factors of competitive rivalry:

  • Cell phone cost:  Customers wants better services and products at a lower cost.
  • Bundle functions into just one cell phone:  For example E-mail, text messaging, internet
  • New technology improvement:  For example camera phones
  • Better landline services

3.  Stage in Life Cycle:

The cell phone industry is in the Mature Life Cycle Stage, where nearly all-potential customers are already users of the industry’s product.  The cell phone industry’s growth and profitability depends entirely on its ability to attract new customers.  By increasing and improving the cell phones and services, it will attract more potential buyers, because technology alone will not attract buyers, instead companies want value-added services for mobile-phone securities.

Cell Phone companies attract buyers in two ways during the Mature Life Cycle State:

  • Service:  Making cell phone more affordable will attract buyers to buy more cell phones and increase competition between companies to lower service fee.
  • Innovative Phone Style:  The new designs and improvement in the physical appearance of the cell phones, and more add-on features attracts customers to buy it at a higher rate.

4.  Numbers of Companies in the Industry:

There are over 50 companies with only six top companies in the cell phone industry that controls 80 percent of the market.  Even though there are emerging new companies into the market, they are relatively small.  The six top companies are rank as follow as the largest to the smallest cell phone company:

  1. Verizon Wireless
  2. Cingular Wireless
  3. AT&T Wireless
  4. Sprint Wireless
  5. Nextel Wireless
  6. T-Mobile Wireless


Verizon is the number one largest company having 38.9 million U.S. customers.  Some companies have suffered low profitability for merging with another company, which resulted in only four of the six companies that controls 80 percent of the market.  The following companies merged resulting in only four companies; Sprint merged with Nextel, and Cingular bought AT&T.

Below are financial highlights showing how well the four cell phone service companies that are occupying the market are faring.

Financial HighlightsSprintVerizonCingularT-Mobile
Revenue (2005)34680.00 M27662.00 M19436.00 M9366.00 M
Revenue Growth (1 yr)26.40%23.00%25.50%12.10%
Employees (2005)79,90049,80070,30022,616
Employee growth (1 yr)33.40%13.40%78.40%5.10%

5.  Customers:

Cell phones are attractive targets that are small, expensive, and useful.  Today there are approximately 162 million mobile-phone users in United States alone.  With the list of features and data applications available on mobile phones, which is continuing to grow and emerge; cell phones are not only a luxury but also necessity.  Cell phone users use cell phones for more than just talking; the mobile services consumer wireless usage study found that 56 percent of customers used their cell phones as cameras, clocks, calendars, music players, and other non-talk functions.  Also, most cell phone owners are between the ages of 18 to 34.  However, consumers’ dependency on cell phones can pose a threat that force users to be victims of paying too much for cellular phone services.

There are numerous complaints about low quality service in the industry due to the competition between companies.  By lowering costs for the services, the company will lose profits and reduce their shares.  Customers today, typically complain about the high cost for the services of having to stay on a contract for a long time and paying an early cancellation fee.  Also, with low service line, customers rather pay higher price for better services such as receptions.

Cell phone companies know that consumers dislike mobile-phone services.  In fact, mobile phone services were the second lowest-ranked industry.  Mobile companies were also the number two sector in complaints in 2005.  Many companies claim that consumers love their cell phones and that they’re very happy with the services, which is a half truth.  Consumers complain frequently about dropped calls, lousy customer service and exorbitant penalties from exiting a contract.

A new option in cell phone usage has come into being, which lets subscribers keep their old numbers when switching carriers.  About 47 percent of all cell phone customers would switch or consider switching cell phone service carriers just to get a lower rate and better service so they do not have to pay an average fee of $170 to cancel their service contract.

With a poll during 2010, here are some key findings about consumers’ response to cell phone services and early termination fees:

  • The fees for switching to a new cell phone company that provides lower rates and better services discouraged 36 percent of cell phone customers from switching.
  • 89 percent agrees that early termination fee is a penalty to discourage switching cell phone companies.
  • Cell phone early termination fees costs consumers more than $4.6 billion from 2002 to 2004
  • 47 percent of consumers would consider switching if early termination fees were eliminated

Here are the primary conclusions regarding cell phones:

  • Cell phone companies’ early termination fees create captive customers.
  • The fees inhibit competition in the cell phone industry.
  • Customers are well aware of the early termination fees as penalties rather than rates.

6.  Technology/Innovation: 

Technology and innovation are advanced every year making the industry even more competitive.  Cell phone companies that design and make evolutionary upgrades are emerging into the market to be more competitive.

Here are some new technology and innovations on cell phones:

  • Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) will help those who have high-speed Wi-Fi routers overcome poor reception coverage in their houses or apartments.  This is also a way for mobile carriers to expand without spending a lot of money on new infrastructure.  It enables lots of users who use handsets to wirelessly download content at broadband speeds while traveling.
  • Cell phone tour guides:  Provides buyers with guides of places they want to see.  For example. Weaver’s and Stiller’s voices are used as narrators in Talking Street that shows a series of cell-phone tours from Manhattan to the World Trade Center.  The technology is meant to be more vivid and more exciting than books or live tours.  Some in the industry believe that this new technology saves time and money.  Also, not all mobile-phone tour services charge a fee for using the service.
  • Motorola iTunes phone is basically a hundred-song iPod shuffle built into it.  This is killing the iPod mini because it is a value-added upgrade in which you get both the cell phone and songs together.
  • Near Field Communication (NFC) technology lets wireless devices connect to other devices nearby and transfer data, which ranges from payment information to digital pictures.  Building cell phones with embedded NFC chips could double when used as debit cards or electronic IDs.  For example, in Japan and Korea, users can charge their phones with virtual cash; by waving their cell phones near an NFC-enabled machine to buy anything from a soda to lunch.  This means NFC devices from different manufacturers must be interoperable and integrated to work with the credit card infrastructure and also, it requires working with Visa to encourage support of the new technology.
  • A new launch for SkypeIn and Skype Voicemail are built by the same company, which makes the Skype software, and it allows internet users call one another for free anywhere in the world.  With SkypeIn built into the latest version of software, it allows users to get regular phone numbers and can receive calls from landline or mobile phones without having to pay roaming charges.  Users can purchase up to three numbers in their home country.  Skype Voicemail allows users receive voicemail message for up to ten minutes from any user or traditional phone.  These two technologies enhance the basic free Skype and gives friends, family, and colleagues not connected to the internet an inexpensive and convenient way to contact each other in their global base.
  • VOIP on mobile phones will help cut cell-phone bills most of all for international users based on the assumption that if consumers are already paying for a data plan, will route international calls over their phone’s data connection using VOIP and can save considerable money.  Mino Wireless offers VOIP calls at 2.2 cents a minute to 40 countries and is the first to introduce VOIP on mobile phones in the U.S. market.  It mainly targets travelers, immigrants, and students from overseas.  Using Mino, consumers should have services from Cingular, Nextel or T-Mobile, a data plan, and an up-to-date phone that can run Java.  The company claims to have 20,000 users since they are launching their service in January. There is a lot of competition in VOIP as well because cell phones carriers are interested in VOIP.  VOIP can be implemented but the common concern about implementing VOIP is voice quality and the ability to provide value-added services such as voice mail.

7.  Product Characteristics:

In the cell phone industry, the products and services are highly standardized.  In the past, the products differentiated in cell phones and services.  Today, with more technology enhancement, the products in different companies are essentially similar.  Since this is a cell phone industry, there is a maximum amount of products and services that consumers can choose from. Yet, consumers do not want to purchase cell phones at a higher price value unless the companies are able to make it attractive.

Camera cell phones:

The key factor consumers consider when choosing a device is their context.  Phones with the ability to take images, both still and video have captured about 40% of the wireless phone market.  But despite the product’s popularity, customer users want higher resolution, the ability to use storage media, and many other state of the art features found in modern digital camera.  With consumers’ desire for high resolution digital camera, the market for camera and camcorder phones will peak in 2007.

Nowadays camera phones are the rage in markets all around the globe because consumers are attracted to the convenience of having an imaging device with them at all times.  The business model is focused on users displaying and sending images wirelessly.  As advanced 3G networks are implemented in the coming years, the advance higher resolution camera phones will likewise become very popular.  There are three critical pieces to this type of phone:

  1. The device (phone)
  2. The application (picture taking)
  3. The network (3G)

The introduction of 3G network will accelerate the adoption of the camera phones.  Why?  Because the timing is right for digital imaging to become part of the cell phone industry, especially in new cell phones and new networks.  Camera phones would not work with older phones and networks, because there are small monochrome displays and little storage, and the speed to transmit a digital photo would take a long time.  Just as important is improvement to camera phones, new advanced third generation wireless network (3G) will enable the cost effective transmission of these higher-resolution images.  Purpose of migrating to 3G is to enable users to spend more time using their multimedia phones every day by enjoying the world and keeping in touch with their friends and families.

Here are characteristics of the 3G network on cell phones:

  • The 3G networks are able to transmit at 380 K bps.
  • There is also improvements on the image to 330,000 pixels
  • Internal storage grew so consumers could store a dozen photos on their phone

This means better pictures, better experience, and consumers bought them – by tens of millions of cell phones around the world.

Consumers do not have to pay extra for the camera features; they will get the camera as part of the phone.  Although camera phones are great to take pictures, consumers use them as wallpaper and screensavers instead of printing. This is how consumers change the way they interact with digital technology.  Today, camera phones are so popular that every cell phone company or provider offers them.  Features on all cell phones are similar.  If consumers were to just buy cell phones for their features, consumers can find a similar phone in other companies as well.  This makes the industry very competitive which drives companies to lower product cost and service cost in order to bring large volumes of consumers.

Although camera phones are very popular, one factor that makes consumers dissatisfied is the picture quality, which is limited when these images are printed or sent:

  • Vast majority of users use high-resolution camera in addition to their camera phones.
  • 3% of consumers use their phone as their only digital camera
  • Most consumers take fewer than 10 pictures with their camera phone each month
  • Fewer than 2% of consumers say they will consider a camera phone with less than one mega pixel
  • 50% of consumers say they would only consider a handset with more than two mega pixels of resolution.

Downloadable Application:

Cell phones are programmed allowing users to download applications onto their cell phones.  Such common downloads are of games such as JAMDAT Bowling.  Most applications are large, between 40 KB to 550KB, and with applications ever growing-in-size and very-more-appealing, better multimedia and larger memory in the phones, and better network capabilities for economic high-speed data access.

Video (Streaming):

Video Streaming is when videos are sent over a wireless network to a cell phone.  The Video streaming with 3G helps in ways that is usable and cost effective by the consumer, and economical viable for the wireless operator.

Internet Access via PC Card:

Wireless PC Cards in smaller form will be produced for handhelds.  IT wants access through the internet at the fastest data rates possible, and at the lowest costs.  Operator wireless also wants to keep consumers happy with internet access which will maximize revenues and reduce their costs.

Here are some new cell phone models currently in market today:

  • Motorola RAZR:

Motorola Razr is the latest fashion cell phone of 2006.  It is a flip clamshell design, quad band cellular plus standard features in most GSM cell phones.

  • LG the V:

The new product is a smart clamshell design with small but useable QWERTY keyboard, high resolution camera, MP3 player, and a mini SD (songs).

8.  Scale Economies:

There are two types of economies of scale pertaining to the cell phone industry.  They are the internal and external economies.

  1. Internal

Internal economies of scale are economies made within a company as a result of mass production.  So as a company produces more and more products and services to consumers, the average cost begins to fall so the companies should focus on the following six factors:

  • A technical economy: when the companies use its entire means to generate revenues and increase profitability.  This includes spending a large amount of money on capital to start the company.
  • Managerial economies: when the company splits up managerial duties to meet specific company goals and values.  This in turns helps to complete specific tasks and improve the company to better service consumers.
  • Financial economies: cell phone companies borrow lots of money to purchase capital in order to create products for consumers.
  • Marketing economies: where cell phone companies spends a lot of money to advertise their products and services on television and in newspapers everyday to reach consumers across nations.  Companies resorts to marketing in hope of attracting more consumers to try their products and to generate higher profits and revenue.
  • Commercial economies: cell phone companies order their products and supplies in bulk at a lower rate rather than buying them separately.
  • Research and development economies: the cell phone companies are continuously developing new and advance technology cell phone to be in pace with the competitive market.
  1. External

The external economies are made outside of the company as a result of its location.  Most cell phone companies have a corporate headquarter that concentrates on the following to keep track of the company’s progress.

  • Cell phone companies have licensed franchises that operate to sell products and services to consumers.  They have a network that connects them to manufacturers, service carriers, and main corporate officer that is the backbone of the stores and products it sells.
  • The cell phone companies works closely with service carriers to provide phone service such as clear phone calls, not lost calls, and good receptions.
  • The companies work and communicate directly with manufacturers reputable for the new phones enhancement, upgrades, and features.

9.  Learning & Experience Effects:

The major complaint found in the cell phone industry was cost and services.  So to improve their service, the company has increased the training for customer service employees to 10 days a year, and introduced a new plan to address common complaints; also tied executive compensation to customer satisfaction.

There are more options that buyers can choose from, whether it be the actual phone itself or the service plan.  Companies are now giving customers a series of contract terms and costs as well as giving them a sample of how their first bill will look like so they understand the contract before signing it.

Service carrier is a very important factor to maintaining consumer satisfaction and to keep consumers.  With that, companies are all pushing new data services for business customers to increase new revenue sources.

10.  Capital Requirements:

The cell phone companies require large capital to enter and remain in the market successfully.  Companies require capital to create products that attracts consumers and for total assets and revenues to enlist other products and services that are featured with cell phones.  Cell phone companies work with manufacturers to create new technological and innovative cell phones in the market today to attract consumers.  A valuable capital in the cell phone industry is the consumers because revenue and profits depends on them who buy the companies’ cell phones.

New products are introduced continually, technology evolves on a daily basis, and customers are eager to become part of the future of a wireless society.  This makes the market very competitive and large companies that have big economies of scale provide a highly automated service to a large number of customers, and have the financial resources required in building and maintaining a large network of communications devices.  Smaller companies can also compete, but only in small markets or by provide specialty services.

Total capital requirement to start a business in selling cell phones requires a capital investment between $50,000 to $90,000, and liquid capital requirement of$40,000 to $50,000.  In addition, companies spend millions of dollars on developing brand name recognition, and promoting and marketing their products.  Companies also want to spread their companies out through franchises, because more offices mean more visibility in drawing consumers in to buying their products and services.

11.  Industry Profitability:

The cell phone industry will remain a competitive market and will increase continuously with a total of 1,200 wireless companies with total annual revenue of $100 billion.  The profitability of individual companies is driven mainly by their ability to develop new products, providing better service, making their products affordable for consumers.  Profitability of companies is achieved also by taking advantage of marketing their products, have access to capital, and by inquiring the expertise to improve the cell phones.

The profitability of the cell phone industry is dependent on the volume of consumer they can attract.  The profitability of companies has increased drastically since 2002 and will continue to increase as new cell phones are improved.  Since 2004, the financial markets of cell phone companies seem to increase fast because of the new technologies and services that companies are offering consumers, and at the same time they compete for customers.  Although there are complaints and dissatisfaction from consumers, cell phone and the service along with it has become a necessity which companies use as an advantage by charging consumers higher price.

As in any industry, there are declining and inclining profits.  The cell phone has experienced a slight decline; worldwide shipments of cell phones rose 26 percent in the first quarter of 2006 compared with the same period last year.  Currently today, the global market continues to thrive on consumers replacing older phones with new purchases, a total of 226.7 million mobile phones.  For individual company profitability, Nokia is listed at the top, retaining a third of the global market share and enjoying a 39.6 percent growth.  Motorola also had a high increase of 60.6 gains and is controlling 20.3 percent of the market.  Samsung has shipped over 29 million phones and is in third place with a decrease in sale to only 18.4 percent growth. LG came fourth for market share with 6.9 percent and experienced an operating loss for the quarter due to marketing expenses and fewer sales.

The cell phone industry looks strong and competitive between the companies and service they provide.  Even more as new options are in place, such as, allowing consumers to keep their numbers while switching carriers.


In recent years, cell phones have turned out to be a necessity rather than a status symbol. Nowadays, cell phone manufacturers are producing different phones that fit different needs; and also, service providers have different plans for customers to choose from. With the advance in technology, consumers are able to experience the ease in communication. From 1994 onwards, the cell phone industry has seen great success through the years, and analysts predict that this growth is only going to increase with the advancement of technology.

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