Mobile phone is a commodity

Apr 20 2014, 03:45 IST
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SummaryThe resemblance between staple food and mobile phones that I wrote about last week spells a red danger signal for manufacturers

The resemblance between staple food and mobile phones that I wrote about last week spells a red danger signal for manufacturers. How long can manufacturers continue the version strategy in the hope of sustaining their business?

New model versions every quarter is the name of the game now. Global companies bring out several price categories. Inside each category, there’s some tinkering with the software. This becomes the new version with inhuman digits like Nokia Lumia 1320, 1520, 1020 or Samsung Galaxy Note, 2, 3, S, S2, S3, S4, S5. Then there’s Apple’s iPhone, 2g, 3, 3G, 3gs, 4, 4S, 5, 5C, 5S. Such insensitive acts are done robotically to generate revenue without understanding the customers’ subconscious mind. What is the distinctive change a mobile device’s design brings?

Sooner than later, the handset is becoming a commodity. The huge number of new handset buyers getting added every day is more intelligent than the buyer of reputed brand mobile phones. The masses either don’t have money to waste, or consider it foolish to spend extra on a brand’s value. The mobile is like commodity rice and bread where no brand has yet established its pull nor tangibly shown any better benefit. Similarly, the large community of unbranded mobile phone buyers finds negligible, untenable distinction between different branded handheld devices in the market. The branded handset buyer will shift to unbranded categories because as there’s no functional distinction, why specially choose a brand, why pay more?

The mobile phone industry is lagging behind in understanding the parameters of differentiation vs distinction. Everybody knows that digital technology brings costs down. By altering colours and digital icons to prove premiumness and brand distinction, digi-tech mobile phones are struggling. Perhaps there’s technological engineering differentiation in the software, but the consumer eye that chooses the instrument, gives that differentiation no credence. Steve Jobs was driving Apple like a fashion designer. After the death of this sultan of design, everybody has realised that the mobile hand device is generic.

Big mobile brands are destroying their brand value by frequent launch of new versions bearing heartless code names that nobody can mentally register. I was using Samsung Note 2 without any problem when suddenly I was provoked to buy Note 3 within six months. According to my requirement, I never did figure out why I needed the new one, it showed no extra purpose. Making such versions, brands are losing consumer

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