Take a trip to your mobile carrier’s official store and in addition to phones you’ll find no shortage of cases, docking stations and other third-party and after market products. All that extra stuff adds up too. This week, Media Post reported that the typical U.S. mobile handset owner would spend about $60 on accessories. Among the accessories are chargers, carrying cases, batteries and of course memory cards. These are some of the products listed as popular after market add-ons according to a new study by ABI Research.
Phone owners under 40 were also the ones most likely to buy data connection cables, protective cases and other phone-related accessories. This study suggests that this demographic owns a more expensive, media-focused handset or smartphone.
Of course some of the accessories come in waves. As I’ve previously reported, the iPhone has spawned a cottage industry that is now anything but cottage. But in the long run, the iPhone hasn’t changed that much to encourage continued growth in this sector, at least compared to what the competition has to offer. Apple iPhone owners can often upgrade their handsets, but keep the accessories.
A move from a BlackBerry Curve to the newly released BlackBerry Tour will mean a new protective case at the very least. And given that even feature phones tend to change shape with disturbing regularity, there seems to be no end in sight for most after market products. However, there is one product area that could see a shrinking market.
This of course is going to be chargers. Phone makers are moving to a standardized universal charger and this means that you only should have to buy a car adapter and a backup charger once. And going forward, losing one won’t require you to seek out the exact model. But for the rest of the accessories, it is going to remain a side business for a long time to come.
Nokia is so Money
This week mobile phone maker Nokia announced that it will launch Nokia Money, a basic financial service for mobile handsets. This will allow consumers to send money, pay for goods and services, pay for bills or just recharge prepaid sim cards on the handsets.
The technology is meant to essentially replace banking—something that would be very desirable to billions of people around the world who have no access to normal banking. Nokia made it clear that the necessary client would be pre-installed on some handsets, but that users would also be able to download it to their current Nokia phones. The first Money services could be rolled out early next year. The company will be demonstrating this technology at Nokia World, which is being held next week in Stuttgart, Germany.
Qwest Communications Hanging Up
If you’re one of the remaining Qwest Communications International wireless customers you’ll have until Halloween to make calls, and after that you’ll have to find a new carrier. The company has confirmed that it will switch off service to its remaining 763,000 wireless phone customers in Colorado and 13 other states where it currently operates.
The company isn’t completely disappearing, but is in fact exiting the highly competitive mobile phone market to concentrate on its core broadband business. Since 2004 Qwest was offering wireless service using the Sprint Nextel Corp. network, and since last may entered into a profit-sharing agreement to sell Verizon wireless service.
Anyone making a call via Qwest will be routed to a company service representative, who will remind the caller that the carrier is discontinuing its service. Current customers will be able to migrate their number to a new carrier.
What is interesting about this is that Qwest actually has a unique history that differs from most of the other wireless carriers. While AT&T and Verizon were both essentially spawned from the break-up of the original AT&T and came about from the subsequent mergers, Qwest actually entered the teleco space from its railroad roots! In fact, the company was founded only 13 years ago in 1996. Southern Pacific Railroad owner Philip Anschutz began installing the first all-digital, fiber-optic network along the railroad lines to provide high-speed data access to various businesses. The railroad merged with former rival Union Pacific in 1998, and had a contract to provide fiber-optic lines for MCI. In addition to laying those lines, Anshutz laid his own fiber as well. Following a merger with US West (a former “Baby Bell”), Qwest was a telco, although it did have to spin off the long distance service.
But while the company has seen continued success delivering data, it never achieved the success of the other mobile carriers. And all this brings us back to something I discussed earlier this year, namely that practically all the current carriers are essentially the coming together of the various Baby Bells.
While the dust hasn’t settled and likely won’t until at least November, it will be interesting to see how those Federal regulators will take to Qwest hanging it up. With Sprint closing a deal on Virgin Mobile also taking place, the wireless landscape continues to evolve. And someone will be watching.