On the Road Again

Article excerpt

Whether they are trying to keep up with the Joneses or the Jetsons, nearly everyone from executives to eccentrics is buying cellular telephones. In fact, American businesses had a product sales increase of only 4% last year, whereas cellular sales skyrocketed 43%.

"This is probably the only industry that was blessed by the recession," says Norman Black, director of public affairs & communications for the Washington, D.C.-based Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA). "There was so little business to be obtained that people needed and tried to acquire every competitive edge available to them," explains Black as to why the cellular market continued to grow.

It has been about eight years since cellular telephones were first introduced and hit the market. They were deemed by industry experts as the fastest-growing technology ever, surpassing stereos, video recorders and even televisions. Today, cellular telephones--car, mobile and miniature portable units--are not just commonplace, they're every place.

Last year, 7.6 million cellular subscribers generated approximately $5.7 billion in revenues. According to CTIA, the cellular market is adding 196,000 users per month. There are currently 15 million cellular phones in use worldwide. Last year alone, 2.8 million phones were sold. Most folks are racing to purchase cellular phones, because they don't want to waste another minute while commuting. "Why read the paper when you can close the deal over the phone?" asks Scott Slater, president of Cellular Plus, a cellular consulting firm in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Indeed, a study conducted by The Gallup Organization on behalf of the electronics giant, Motorola Inc., reinforces that sentiment. Of the cellular users surveyed, 66% claim the phones helped them keep up with the competition; 91% say they increased their productivity; and 70% say the phones made them more successful in business. Of the businesspeople surveyed, 18% were in sales or retail positions, and more than half claimed sales increased because of the cellular phones.

Consumer demand for small, lightweight and versatile phones has made portable phones the fastest-growing sector of the cellular industry. Portables make up about 38% of the market, says Richard Siber, director of mobile and wireless communications for BIS Strategic Decisions in Norwell, Mass.

On The Cutting Edge

Manufacturers dominating the cellular market are Motorola Inc., Shaumburg, Ill.; NEC America Inc., Melville, N.Y.; Panasonic USA, Secaucus, N.J., and Japan's Fujitsu Ltd. NEC America's latest offerings are two new portable phones, the P400 and the P600.

The P400 features a 16-character LCD screen, 40-number, speed dial memory and a silent call alert. …