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Mobile Phone Market

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Analysis of Competition in the Mobile Phone Markets of the United States and Europe

International Business Master's thesis Mika Husso 2011

Department of Management and International Business Aalto University School of Economics

AALTO UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS Department of Management and International business Master’s thesis

ABSTRACT

ANALYSIS OF COMPETITION IN THE MOBILE PHONE MARKETS OF THE UNITED STATES AND EUROPE

Competition in an economic context is a widely studied phenomenon with a significant body of accumulated research and theory. However, competition in the mobile phone industry, despite its prevalence in public discussion, has received significantly less attention in academic research. Within the international business (IB) context there are very few academic studies that seek to analyze and compare the different geographical mobile phone markets from the viewpoint of competition.

This thesis examines competition in the mobile phone markets of the United States and Europe in light of interviews and secondary data covering years 2002 - 2011. The framework used for the analysis is founded on concepts drawn primarily from industrial organization (IO) economics, IB theory and microeconomics. The first part of the thesis gives an overview of the U.S. and European mobile phone markets and the second part focuses specifically on Nokia, its actions and performance on the U.S. market.

The findings reveal that the U.S. and European mobile phone markets are fundamentally different. Firstly, while in Europe several parallel sales channels exist, the U.S. market is dominated by mobile operators that control access to the end customer. Secondly, in the U.S. market phones are generally sold heavily subsidized and bundled, and either under the operator brand or co-branding agreements. In addition, the U.S. market has historically split in...

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