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Business 2.0: Have you walked into a cell-phone store lately? If not, then let me tell you what you’ll find there. Unless you’re willing to spend upwards of $300 on a phone, you will find scores of silvery devices, none bigger or much smaller than two packs of gum, all with the same tinkly ringtones and onscreen menus.
The reason for this mind-numbing uniformity is the rapid commoditization of the handset business. Asian manufacturers stamp out a couple dozen designs. Many phone operators buy these phones wholesale and stick on their own labels instead of selling Nokia – or Motorola -branded phones. The reason is pretty simple. The carrier wants to promote its own name, not that of the phone maker. That brand exclusion is forcing leading makers like Nokia to figure out a way to distinguish themselves in a crowded marketplace. And the best way to do so is by offering unique software applications. More at the Business 2.0 website.