Archive for the 'Non-price competition' Category

Dec 05 2007

Is Nokia in denial?

Nokia Won’t Play iPhone’s Tune

As we know, oligopolistic markets are characterized by a few large firms which act interdependently based on the actions of one another. Examples of such interdependence may include pricing and output behavior, advertising behavior, sales and promotions, non-price competition, services offered to consumers, and so on. The “game” of oligopoly is played with one very important goal in mind: maintaining market share in the face of competition from rivals.

In a previous post I discussed some of the strategies Apple has used to break into the oligopolistic market for cellular phones, which it recently did by introducing the thus far wildly successful iPhone. A chart in that post showed that as of earlier this year, the dominant firm in the mobile phone market was Nokia, with a market share of 35.1%. Apple was not even a competitor in this market until July of this year, which saw the successful launch of the iPhone, causing some of the incumbent mobile phone makers to pay close attention to the newcomer’s behavior.

Nokia executives, however, appear to be in denial of the potential threat posed by the iPhone to its dominance in the cell phone industry:

Nokia managers would never admit to being influenced by the Apple iPhone, which mobile phone industry insiders regard as clever but technologically unimpressive. “We don’t determine strategy based on the competition,” insists Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia executive vice-president and general manager for multimedia. “The consumer is our compass.”

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Nov 17 2007

Does Apple stand a chance?

China Mobile negotiating with Apple to carry iPhone

Try try as he might, Steve Jobs and Apple can barely launch their hottest new product, the iPhone, before the Chinese have copied it and put a knockoff on the market as quickly as you can say “can you hear me now?” But what is Apple doing making a cell phone anyway? Isn’t the mobile phone market pretty much dominated by a few big name companies already? How will apple ever survive in a market with such well established firms as Nokia, Samsung, and Motorola?

The answer is through product differentiation. The iPhone is truly an innovative little gadget. More than an MP3 player, more than a cell phone, the iPhone has features that differentiate it from most products available from the established firms in the mobile phone market. Like any firm, Apple advertises its iPod through commercials and other media in order to inform consumers about what makes its product special. What message does the following advertisement send about the iPhone?


The table below shows the market shares of the larges mobile phone makers as of late last year (before the release of the iPhone). A simple calculation finds that the four firm concentration ratio in the mobile market was 75.6%, clearly putting the market in the realm of an oligopoly (a market in which the four firm concentration ration is 40%).


With 75% of the market being controlled by Nokia, Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson, the question arises whether Apple will be able to overcome the barriers to entry in the mobile market and establish itself as one of the big boys. Apple’s strategy for profits and market penetration certainly leverages the power of product differentiation and non-price competition, both firm behaviors common among firms in oligopolistic markets.

To make matters worse for Apple, only months after the iPhones release, and in the midst of negotiations between Apple and China Mobile to officially launch the product in China, a cheap, 4 GB knock-off of the fancy device comes along to entice Chinese consumers away from the 5,000 RMB (nearly $700) real deal. Check this thing out… would you be able to tell the difference?

Discussion Questions:

  1. What barriers to entry exist in the market for mobile phones?
  2. Why do you think so few firms produce mobile phones?
  3. Do you think Apple will be able to successfully penetrate the mobile market?
  4. What threat do cheaper “knock-offs” of the Apple iPhone pose to Apples attempts to compete in China’s mobile market?

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Nov 05 2007

Non-price competition in the market for… WIKIS!! Wetpaint makes a move to gain market share

Wetpaint, the free online wiki service, has stepped up its use of non-price competition in an attempt to increase its market share in the wiki market. In addition to releasing several Mac vs. PC parody videos meant to showcase the user-friendly, customizability of Wetpaint’s wikis vs. its rivals, the company also announced this morning that it would be offering ad-free wikis to educators!

As a user of Wetpaint since early this year, the distracting presence of advertisements bothered me; the decision to provide educators with ad-free wikis is huge, and makes Wetpaint even more attractive as a platform for hosting online learning communities for teachers of all grade levels.

[youtube X1JSVR0AorQ nolink]

You may be thinking, “Huh? There’s a market for wikis?” Well sure there is. Just because something’s free for us consumers does not mean it’s not a profit oriented business. Wetpaint and its rivals compete for consumers in an oligopolistic market in which competition is not based on price (since its products are essentially free), rather on product differentiation based on features and communicated through advertising and public relations.

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