Hayun, Sam & Gavin (2009) define a smartphone as “a high-end mobile phone built on a mobile computing platform, with more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a contemporary feature phone”. Looking at smartphones today, this definition holds a lot of truth compared to a few years back.
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The first smartphones can be easily compared to the regular phones in the market today as they had even less features than what a regular phone has. As recorded by (Hendricks, 2010), “the first smart phones were devices that mainly combined the functions of a personal digital assistant (PDA) and a mobile phone or camera phone”. These functionalities have been greatly modified now to suit the different needs that arise in the current markets.
Like Dziri (2011) explains, “today’s models also serve to combine the functions of portable media players, low-end compact digital cameras, pocket video cameras, and GPS navigation units”. The modern smartphone is constantly undergoing change and upgrade, sometimes even making it hard for regular consumers to keep up. Technology providers and designers are constantly doing their best to outdo each other and ensure supremacy in the markets. The OS industry is today arguably the most competitive industry.
Functionalities available in smartphones continue to increase even as the needs in the market continue to evolve. “Modern smartphones typically also include high-resolution touch-screens, web browsers that can access and properly display standard web pages rather than just mobile-optimized sites, and high-speed data access via Wi-Fi and mobile broadband” (Dziri, 2011).
The rate at which the devices change and new functionalities arise all prove the vibrancy in the markets. New efforts, functionalities and designs continue to pour into the market, even as consumers remain spoilt for choice.
Experts argue that the trend is expected to continue making the smartphone industry among the most competitive. Even as this happens, it is expected that pressure from the markets and the rate at which trends change in the markets may force some of the players out leaving three of four major players in the market in the long run.
- This paper is aimed at establishing factors that influence the decisions of the youths o acquire a smartphone.
- Understand the background of the smartphone industry
- Analyze the smartphone market trends and the role played by the youths in this marekts
- Understand reasons why youths buy smartphones through a survey on 100 people
- Explain the significance of the study
Different factors play different roles among youths in the process of deciding on which smartphone to get. They can be broken down as follows;
- People are buying smartphones because their friends have smartphones while they do not need it
- People are buying phones because of their positions and status
- Role models buy smartphones to be a good influence to their children and younger siblings
- People are buying a smartphone because they think they are cool
- People refuse to buy smartphones because they think they are too old and the phones are childish devices
- People buy smartphones because their jobs require them to have a smartphone all the time
- People who buy a smartphone do so to change their personalities
- People who are up-to-date with technology and science are more likely to obtain a smartphone
History of the smartphone industry
Like Hayun, Sam & Gavin (2009) record, “the first smartphone was the IBM Simon; it was designed in 1992 and shown as a concept product that year at COMDEX, the computer industry trade show held in Las Vegas, Navada”. The phone went on sale in 1993 with features considered as highly advanced at that time.
It contained an address book, a calendar, a note pad, calculator and world clock, among other basic applications in today’s phones. By today’s standards, the phone would be considered as very low-product since it lacked the ability to download any applications and also lacked a camera.
In 1996, Nokia released its first smartphone with communicators characterized by a clamshell design. It had a QWERTY keyboard and an operating system that allowed its users to have email communication. The operating system which was based on GEOS V3.0 also allowed text-based web browsing. The company released better smartphone models 1998 and 2000, each with a better web browsing capability than the former design.
The Erickson R380 was a significant step in the smartphones industry. Other than having a touch-screen, it was the first phone to use an open operating system. The device used the Symbian OS and was the first to be marketed as a smartphone. It was designed to serve as a mobile phone and a personal digital assistant. It was appointed to one of the most significant advances in technology in 1999 and has been considered as a pacesetter in the industry. The company later introduced the P800 which was a slight modification of the R380.
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Since then, the smartphone industry has experienced a lot of vibrancy and competition. Nokia launched the N95 in 2007 with features that would become standard on high-end smart phones.
They include a Wi-Fi connectivity, GPS, a 5 megapixel camera, LED flash for the camera and TV-out, among other features. In 2010 the company launched the Nokia N8 smartphone with a front-facing VGA camera, allowing users a smaller device for videoconferencing. The device was the first one to use the Symbian3 OS and featured a 12 megapixel camera.
Other players in the field include Apple Inc., a company that is credited with setting the pace for innovations and products in the industry. Using its iPhone products, the company has tine and again exceeded the markets’ expectations by being able to anticipate the markets’ needs and working towards having new solutions each time.
“It is estimated that about 35% of Americans have some sort of smartphone, a figure which reveals that the market is spreading fast and there is also more capabilities for smartphones because of this spread” (Farell, 2011). The value of a smartphone is today decided based on its operating system. This has further created a lot of competition among different OS developers. The Android currently ranks as the best operating system for smartphones.
Background of the industry
“The smartphone industry’s rapid adoption seems to be going on and on and, at least for the time being, the end of this growth is not on the horizon” (Hendricks, 2010). The trend has been very encouraging in the last five years and experts point out that the current rate of growth is no news at all.
Taking a look at some of the statistics provided by different stakeholders, it is possible to have an idea on where the industry is headed to. The ABI research records that in the second quarter of 2010, smartphones made up 19% of all the phones shipped. The figure represented a 12% growth compared to the first quarter of the same year. Comparing the results with those in 2009, there was a 50% increament of smartphones shipped.
Putting into consideration the revolution that is unfolding in both the software and hardware sectors, things are bound to get better. These expectations are further backed-up by other factors such as the amount of money being spent by investors in the industry. For example, Microsoft is spending a billion dollars to stage a comeback with the Windows Phone 7 Platform. The presence of high quality brands such as Verizon-branded Apple iPhone only serve as a catalyst for bigger developments in the already vibrant market.
The battle of supremacy among the operating systems developers is now considered a matter of life and death. In realization that there is no room for everyone, most observers argue that the industry needs to boil down to perhaps three operating systems. That way, the industry will have more defined structures of growth.
The current standing with the mobile operating systems reveal a tough battle between the BlackBerry OS, Apple’s iOS and Android by Google in the US market. According to (Hayun, Sam & Gavin, 2009), “the momentum is with Android, while Apple continues to make quite a few dollars with their devices and these two operating systems are seen as the major players”.
Trends in the smartphone industry
Enterprise mobility in any industry is highly influenced by trends in that industry. According to Lee (2011), “emerging developments in the smartphone industry are exoected to bring about new trends for enterprise mobility management, with formerly popular business smartphone options being replaced by new products from Google and Apple”. In the corporate markets, the Blackberry brand seems to be taken more seriously than other brands.
Costs management in business further affects the way smartphones are appreciated in the industry. According to Lee (2011), “the ‘bring your own device’ philosophy continues to be adopted by the enterprise due to major cost savings, the consumerization of corporate IT, and mobile business applications”.
Smartphones providers will need to evolve based on business’ cost management objectives, by ensuring a richer user experience, and reduce the need to get a new device every so often. They will also need to ensure that their devices drive employee adoption and improve enterprise mobility.
Furthermore, developers need to ensure that the benefits of a smartphone are as diverse as possible to increase their usefulness in the market. The Android smartphone is viewed as one of the brands that have been able to offer diverse solutions to different needs in one device. In fact, a report by Institutional securities as quoted in Lee (2011) predicts that the brand will beat many other brands to occupy nearly half of the market share in the next five years.
In order to attract the youths, smartphones need to be designed in a way that meets their needs. May people below the age of 35 years of age will be particular about fun while using a device, entertainment and relevance in their day to day transactions. Designers will need to adapt to the needs of their end-users, in this case the youth.
As their needs get more and more complex, research and development will be critical in ensuring that a product is relevant in the market. According to Dziri (2011), “the rapid deployment of cloud based pre-packaged mobile applications, along with the scalability needed by the enterprise, makes these pre-packed mobile solutions a preferable alternative to the resource intensive alternative to writing custom mobile applications in-house”. Such benefits obviously allow young people, especially those in business to focus on optimizing resources.
Some of the trends that will shape this industry in the coming years are outlined below:
Litigation and patent assertion
The smartphones industry has attracted a lot of competition due to increasing sales volumes and stable consumer price of the product. “Increasing competition has resulted in greater use of patent assertion by incumbents to protect markets and create new revenues streams” (Hendricks, 2010).
Existing players and new market entrants have all has a share of trouble in an industry where court cases due to patent issues have become a norm. New players are especially affected as they face major patent challenges from established players such as Motorola. Non-practicing entities have also posed significant challenges to new entrants due to royalties and other related issues. The situation is currently very messy as a result of many suits and counter-suits being filed almost every day.
Product convergence such as GPS, imaging and other functionalities have made the situation even more volatile since they create too many licensing opportunities. This trend is expected to affect the market and trends in the industry, especially in implementing functionalities that are most attractive to the young people such as imaging.
Shift from emulation to innovation
China is one of the nations that invest billion of dollars each year to research and development in the area of science and technology. The country is currently looking into investing more into an innovation revolution when it comes to smartphones. By the year 2008, more than 70% of wireless patent fillings available in the country and other parts of the globe were Chinese domestic innovations. This represented a five-fold increment from the previous years.
In the same year, the number of patents filled in the US by Chinese inventors tripled. Building on this trend, Chinese major companies in the industry such as ZTE and Huawei are expected to set the pace in developing products that meet the increasing sophisticated needs of the markets.
The younger customers are especially expected to put a lot of pressure on developers as their needs evolve every day. Consumers below the age of 35 years of age are increasing expressing their preference for genuine smartphones rather than the easily available copies in the markets. The need for more innovations and less emulation trends is therefore expected to increase and change market trends in the industry.
The face of medical devices industry
“Currently, the core elements of many personal medical devices increasingly found in smartphones include: processors, displays, memory, keyboard (data entry methods), battery power, connectivity methods, speakers and sensors, among others” (Hendricks, 2010). Smartphones have become a more applicable device in the medical industry, especially among the young doctors. The face of the medical industry, as well as its needs is expected to play a major role in how the smartphone industry develops.
The need for smartphones designers to deliver valuable medical devices functionality at a cost that makes sense to all the stakeholders in the industry is urgent. Integrating the smartphones into the medical industry will be critical especially as a new generation of doctors with a high sense of appreciation to technology takes over the industy. It is viewed as a conveniently hand and ready to use device for the young doctors.
Making it available to them at an affordable cost is a debate that will obviously have an effect o the future of the smartphoe industry. New smartphone platforms must take into consideration the need for precision and reliability as key factors that doctors consider in a product that they intend to use in their profession. As new doctors graduate and take up more modern practices to manage their schedules, information and tasks, the smartphones industry cannot afford to ignore their needs and role in the market.
Factors to consider when buying a smartphone
Many consumers are already taking advantage of the holiday offers to acquire a smartphone. As the industry becomes more and more competitive, there are so many models and makes to choose from. It is important that a consumer gets one that fits their needs and expectations.
Many smartphones today can be described as handheld computers and are able to perform most of the functions that a computer can perform. Whether one needs a device to play music from, send emails or play games, different devices have been configured to ensure that most of these functionalities are available.
However, customers with more specific needs may need to be more attentive to details to reduce changes of being disappointed. This is especially important for young users whose needs become more and more complex each day. Some of the factors that youths should consider before buying a smartphone include;
The operating system
Hayun, Sam & Gavin (2009), states that when buying a smartphone, “it is all about the operating system”. The author continues to explain that as it is the case with computers, a smartphone can be defined and judged by the software powering it. This is evident by the amount of competition and fights to stay at the top of the market among different operating systems developer.
“While Microsoft Windows and Mac OS operate the majority of personal computers, there are five major operating systems for smartphones namely; RIM’s RIMM, Apple’s AAPLE ISO, Google’s Android software, Microsoft’s MSFT and Palm’s WebOS” (Hayun, Sam & Gavin, 2009). RIMM ofr a long time remained the most popular mobile OS in the US market but this has changed as Android slowly gains more favor from the subscribers.
Android is considered the most flexible option because it is available through every major carrier. It is most popular among people who are avid Google users and enjoy applications such as Gmail. iPhones on the other hand extend beyond most junkies in the market and those who have been using iTunes and iPods to access music would rather stay with what they know, which is the Apple products.
While new apps are available in the market every day to make iPhone and Android better options, no other brand beats BlackBerry in professional communication. It has functionalities that make it easily trusted among corporate and provides enough games and entertainment for the users when they need entertainment. Gamers, who are the young people can access the best games through brands such as WebOS phones.
“From navigation to productivity tools, to personalized music networks, to games that rival the best of the consoles and video arcades, apps can turn your smartphone into a universal toolbox and entertainment system” (Hendricks, 2010). The Android smartphone which has more than 100,000 apps is slowly making up ground to reach other brands such as the iPhone which has more than 350,000 apps. By 2010, BlackBerry had more than 10,000 Apps and users can still access all the basic Apps such as Pandora.
Youths have needs that keep growing and changing every day. As these needs become more and more complex, the Apps industry expands and new products are made available. For this generation, games, social networking, and imaging top the list of their needs. For this reason, smartphones that appeal to them are those that allow for such functionalities.
The unlimited data plan is slowly becoming a favorite for many data users. Like Lee (2011) cautions, “with high definition video clips and games available at your fingertips-in addition to email, apps and browsing the web-chances are you will be running more data through your smartphone than you anticipate”.
When buying a smartphone, it is important that one establishes their data plans options first. The young people are heavy data users as they use their smartphones to do more things than the older people. For this reason, signing up for as large a data plan as possible is the best plan for them.
Research carried out in the past by different smartphone companies reveal that availability of a good data plan is one of the factors that young people consider before buying a smartphone. Different brands in the industry have signed agreements with different data providers to ensure that their users have the best data plans and do so for a favourable cost.
In the US, Verizon is among the best data providers with unlimited packages going for as little as $30 per month. Other providers base their charges on how much data a user consumes a month, an option that comes with major benefits for the light users, but is too costly for heavy data users.
Since data is a scarce commodity, most youths would rather pay a few dollars more per month, than be bombarded with an incredibly big bill at the end of the month. More people continue to appreciate this arrangement and the demand for unlimited data arrangements is increasing. Overtime, a good data plan is becoming more important than the actual device.
“Power is more precious and more important than the basic features” (Lee, 2011). For many users, it is not uncommon to run out of power in the middle of an important task. This is common among the young users who are on their smartphone constantly and do tasks that consumer more power such as playing music. Watching a Youtube clip and playing games will drain a smartphones’ power more quickly than checking an email.
Since nobody wants to have a device that they cannot use, battery power is even more important than the phones number of megapixel. Even with the best model of smartphone, having a weak battery means that you will be unable to fully utilize the phone’s potential.
Even as more sophisticated models become available in the market, it is important for smartphone designers to ensure that users have the best power management options. For those who are likely to be in the phone many hours in a day such as the youth, making available an extra battery will be an added advantage.
Smartphones today are used as a symbol of status. Young people and especially girls are more particular about colour, design, and the overall appearance of a phone. Ever since the first oversized mobile phone was introduced by Michael Douglas more than twenty years ago, mobile phones have been constantly used as a status symbol. The iPhone is currently the most elegant phone in the market and a favorite for those who care about a phone’s outlook.
The phone is easy on the eye and the touch screen provides a key element for those who love beauty. For the young people, it is essential for gaming and light enough to carry in a pocket. Even though competion and attention tends to be more focused on the operating system and Apps, looks remain a significant factor for youths when buying a smartphone. Looks also include the accessories available in a phone.
Purpose of the phone
A user’s needs largely determine which smartphone they pick. A user who needs a phone for business and one who needs one for personal stuff are bound to have different preferences when choosing a phone. Many organizations today have jobs designed in a way that an employee may need regular communication with the company when they are out of office.
In this case, communication is a significant part of many young professionals. Making it possible for employees to work out of the office further increases the need for a device that can perform several professional functions. A smartphone makes it possible for people to perform office task even when they are on the move.
Furthermore, schools are now fully utilizing technological innovations making it necessary for students to have such devices. Teachers communicate important announcements through emails and social sites, and lectures may even decide to assign tasks through electronic forms of communication. Those who are studying online need a device that allows them to access and read notes, assignments and even exams anytime and wherever they maybe.
A smartphone’s portability makes it a more preferred device to carry out these tasks instead of carrying a computer around. The need to access information instantly through Apps such as Facebook, twitter and other social sites further makes a smartphone a more relevant product among the young people.
The need to stay entertained through music and games only makes the need even bigger. Therefore, the young generation has increased and diverse functionalities that they require on their smartphones. Such factors play a significant role when shopping for a smartphone.
Managing information and its role in the smartphone industry
Information assurance concepts
As Nedja & Ajith (2007) point out, “confidentiality, integrity, availability, authentication and non-repudiation are the core principals of information assurance”. Other important principals of information assurance include utility and an organization’s ability to own or posses the information.
Confidentiality in information assurance is defined as “the assurance that information is not disclosed to unauthorized individuals, processes and/or devices” (Solove, 2006). Many smartphone providers have put in place measures to ensure that information is only accessed by authorized personnel, who happen to be the user of the phone and those authorized by him/her to use it, and only when there is a genuine need to do so.
Integrity involves proper handling and management of all data systems to ensure safety for smarphone users. It involves largely the people handling the stakeholders’ information such as the customers. According to Nedja & Ajith (2007), “integrity is the quality of information systems reflecting logical correctness and reliability to the operating systems; the logical completeness of the hardware and software implementing the protection mechanisms of different data structures”.
Even though integrity is mostly about people, it encompasses other technical aspects of handling information such as the reliability of security measures put in place. The smartphone industry is among the most vulnerable since users transact a lot of personal information when running different Apps.
Integrity in information assurance is supposed to ensure that any confidential information is only accessible to authorized people and it is protected from modifications by unauthorized people. Loss of integrity also occurs when unauthorized people have the ability to delete information or make it completely disappear from a user’s profile and information library.
In today’s world, specific information is important for proper management of different aspects of a device. With a realization that not all information is useful, converting information to knowledge is an important aspect in information management. Devices have to make it possible for users to be able to do this easily. Information assurance requires that a device be able to access and use convert information and data at the time when they are most needed.
For a user to fully benefit from information, they must have a timely and reliable access to it. The information itself, the smartphone’s computing systems and its security measures must be protective but at the same time, they should not make it impossible to access data and information. Denial of access, a common attack in smartphones, can mean that a user’s wealth of data is useless for the period it is inaccessible.
Smartphones companies understand that authenticity means that the information available for a customer’s use must be genuine, trustworthy and its credibility must be undisputed. A smartphone’s security measures must be able to validate any information received by a user and establish the validity of its sources. Authenticity is important to ensure that both the sources and users of any information are genuine.
In an era where information sharing has become extremely easy, especially for smartphone users, authentication breaches easily occur, compromising the devices’ information assurance standards. Any information management systems available in a smartphone must make it hard for unauthorized personnel to duplicate information or to send it to other destinations and data warehouses without the owner’s authorization.
“Information non-repudiation is the assurance that the sender of data is provided with proof of delivery and the recipient is provided with proof of the sender’s identity, so that neither can later deny having the transaction” (Solove, 2006).
It is a very important information assurance concept to ensure users don’t get into any legal consequences associated with improper conduct during information management. Measures available to facilitate this in smartphones include use of passwords, which can also be used to establish a user’s authenticity.
Information assurance strategies
According to the National Research Council of the US (2010), “defense-in-depth strategy is a term borrowed from military tactical doctrine that suggests deploying war-fighting resources in a manner that presents successive lines of defense”. In this type of strategy, a device increases its resistance to deny the enemy any chance of penetration. A designer will deploy enough preventive measures at the early stages of the design to make it more difficult for the attackers.
These barriers can be enhanced by creating access control to ensure that access is only allowed to known and authorized users. Measures such as internet protocols are able to ensure that data in only fed from know sources. Defense-in-depth strategy commonly uses tools such as demilitarized zones and other detection methods to help a user identify and deal with a threat before it causes any damage to their data warehouse.
Users are required by the system to scan their data and information before using it in a device and systems that run it. In this strategy, it is common for smartphone companies to install monitoring tools and traffic control measures to ensure that all information is verified before being fed or retrieved from the device.
Defense-in-depth strengths include a fast deployment speed and its ability to adapt to dynamic threats. The strategy offers high levels of flexibility and speed since more people can feed, access and use information at the same time. Its weaknesses in include increased expenses arising from the required equipment and security tools such as access-control devices and firewalls.
The strategy calls for more labor and regular maintenance and monitoring, all which increase costs and complexity. Major processes in the strategy such as configuring, implementing and monitoring information and the systems are complex and involving, creating more loopholes for mistakes.
“A system-high approach strictly controls access to vital systems and forces all users to comply with a meticulous clearance process that notionally eliminates the need for security barriers” (Nedja & Ajith, 2007). One way through which a user can do this is ensure that information is only accessible through one specific terminal, hence eliminating all other external connectivity.
This strategy’s strengths include the fact that data protection is done at a lower cost since it does not require all the security technologies used in defense-in-depth strategy. The level of protection is high since information can only be accessed through one controlled terminal making it easier to monitor.
The approach also reduces the number of equipments needed, making it less technical and cheaper. Its weaknesses include rigidity and its inability to respond to other dynamic threats that may arise. The strategy makes deployment more slow since access is controlled.
The research methodology applied in this paper included study of books, academic journals, online articles, past projects by different authors, government statistics and non-governmental organizations in the communication industry. It also included a study of various works on communication devices, technology and science.
Study of books and different articles reveals that growth in the technology and science sectors is a bit overwhelming. The battle of supremacy among smartphones designers has led to a level of competition considered among the most aggressive in all other industries. The resources used for this study were chosen based on their relevance and understanding on the topic.
Using online resources was in line with the topic of research aimed at not only establishing factors that influence the choice of a smartphone, but also how these devices have influenced the way we carry out tasks such as research. It is clear that companies are investing billions of dollars to have the best designs in the market.
The amount of resources dedicated towards research and development in phone companies is staggering. It is also evident that individuals are spending a lot of money to ensure satisfaction, safety and entertainment in the way they communicate and interact. Communication in an efficient way has proved crucial not only for individuals, but also for many organizations who are willing to spend a lot of money to have their staff equipped in the recent devices.
These arguments are based on information collected from various reports by governmental and non-governmental organizations. These reports served very effective and relevant in trying to understand this paper’s background.
Recent and past books and research papers by different authors were also helpful in understanding what drives young consumers when choosing a smartphone. Views from fellow students were also collected to get their thoughts on the subject and how it affects them, as well as what they consider when buying a smartphone.
As Belch & Michael, (2000), argue, “the best avenue for driving an industry’s performance gains is managing the implementation of its processes”. Identifying the key communication management steps is very fundamental if the industry is expecting to have a successful implementation of its technology strategies. “Any technology management strategies are only productive if the results will be aligned with the market’s strategic objectives” (Belch & Michael, 2000).
Key communication and designer management processes are easily identifiable by their level of impact on the industry’s success. They are those processes whose success or failure has serious implications on the industry’s goals and revenues.
For a business to succeed in a specific product’s management, its implementation and management has to be given priority and has to be right. Its objectives should also be specific to the industry’s unique policies, goals and approach. The study was aimed at establishing the truth in these arguments, and establishing areas of improvement.
Triangulation was the research method of choice for this paper. This means that multiple methods of quantitative and qualitative methods were utilized. This decision is justified by the fact that while the research was interested in measuring the different decisions factors for youths who want to own a smartphone and how they change, it also attempted to qualify their impact on the performance of the industry.
Triangulation further allowed this project to get better results and manage any challenges that may arise from one research method. This was possible through balancing between the weaknesses of one research method against the strengths of the other. Data collected was categorized into primary and secondary data.
Primary data was collected through a survey conducted on 100 participants. The surveys aided in exploring the views of the policy promoters in the raison d’etre of formulating these policies and their views on the relationship between the policies and the alarming rate of change of preferences among youths in the smartphones industry.
This method of data collection was necessary for the study to be able to collect detailed information about specific questions. As explained by Singh and Naurang (1996) “Using semi-structured questionnaires allows a broad scope of answers and sufficient latitude for further questioning on specific responses”.
The primary answer sought during the survey was factors that influence a decision to buy a smartphone among the youths. Lee (2011) records that more than half of the people who own a smartphone are people below the age of forty years. This proves that the youth plays a significant role in the industry. They are a significant driving factor in the industry and investors need to pay a lot of attention to their needs. All the questions were aimed at establishing this answer and factors that influence the answers.
Another significant concern that arose during the survey was the level of satisfaction among the youthful users, as well as how it influenced their decision to acquire a smartphone or recommend one to another user. This gave rise to issues such as the role of promotions and marketing and they are being addressed in the smartphones industry.
Process improvement was an important factor when trying to understand how by making effort to make a working system better, a relatively new product such a smartphone can have more activity in the market than products which have been in existent for long. Other important issues that the study explored include the role of a good corporate culture and market trends in developing and building a product that will attract the younger generation.
Of significant importance in this study is was what role cultural and social factors play when making a decision to buy a smartphone among the youths. This was established by having questions in the questionnaire that covered what role influence from friends, relatives and the community plays when a young person is buying a smartphone. These issues were the basis for questions developed for the study. The questions were designed in a way that allowed a fulfillment of the study’s objectives.
In summary, primary data was collected through a survey carried out using self administered questionnaires. The questionnaires were administered using a convenience sample of 100 participants. 50 were below the age of 25 years old but above 18 years, while the other 50 were aged between 25 years and 35 years.
The participants were drawn from different parts of the community, professions, religious backgrounds and cultural beliefs. The choice of participants was motivated by the fact that my level of interaction allows me to reach these people more easily. The sample population balanced the representation of different people with different cultural and social beliefs. The self administered questionnaires were comprised of closed questions. Closed questions make collection of data easier and they do not take a lot of the participants’ time.
Structure of the survey
Questionnaires were administered to 100 people aged between 18-35 years of age. There was an equal representation of gender. The participants were drawn from different parts of the community, professions, religious backgrounds and cultural beliefs. The sample population balanced the representation of different people with different cultural and social beliefs.
The choice of participants was motivated by the fact that my level of interaction allows me to reach these people more easily. The self administered questionnaires were comprised of closed questions.These participants proved very resourceful in understanding factors which influence a decision when buying a smartphone for people aged between the ages of 18 to 35 years.
Recruitment was done by using social network and online forums to reach out to targeted participants. The snowball technique was used to reach the targeted number of participants required for the study. In this technique, people familiar with the study were used to reach out to more people who were then be directed to the research’s weblink.
To gather statistics in the industry, departments in different organizations were contacted by fetching their numbers from the directories. All participants were presented with adequate explanations and guidelines for the study. All participants were also required to fill and sign a consent form agreeing to voluntary participation.
The research methodology applied in this research project was designed to achieve the set objectives of the paper. It included study of books, academic journals, online articles, past projects by different authors, government statistics and information from different stakeholders in the industry.
To understand the background of the problem, literature relating to promotion, marketing, competition and consumption policies will be reviewed. Primary data collection was done by administering questionnaires to 100 participants. Secondary data was collected from past research projects, government and non-governmental statistics and other relevant sources.
The case design was comprehensive and complete enough, to allow different stakeholders in the industry utilize the information in decision-making easily. Beneficiaries of the study include smartphones designers, consumers and other stakeholders in the industry. Reviewing the case design was critical to ensure its validity and applicability. This was ensured in this research project.
Cross-comparing the case design and its outcome, with similar research projects conducted in the past, helped this research to highlight commonalities and identify areas where the results need to be strengthened. Data analysis tools and software were beneficial when sorting out data and identifying patterns.
Data analysis comprised of diverse techniques since the study had different types of data and expected outcomes. When conducting a consumer trends study, data mining is an indispensable technique since it involves discovering knowledge, as opposed to describing it. In this project, 90% of the questionnaires distributed were returned and filled correctly.
Inquiries in different companies for data and information were made early to guarantee enough time for preparation and presentation of data. Secondary data was extremely valuable in augmenting the research.
Before any data was collected, permission was sought from different authorities such as the companies where some of the participants work. Data analysis tools and software were beneficial when sorting out data and identifying patterns. Answers to close-ended questions were analyzed in percentages while the rest of the information was analyzed and discusses individually
Overall project plan
Preparation and completion of this took place in two months
Table 2: Project’s Gantt chart
Ethical issues and limitations
There were a number of ethical issues that arose in the course of completing this research project. One of the most fundamental principles that I followed in research is voluntarism participation. The principle requires that no participant should be coerced to participate in a research or give false information. A participant must also give consent before their identity is revealed if there is a need to do so, although for such a project, anonymity would be applied.
During a research project, ethics also demand that the process must not subject the respondents to any danger or harm, a factor I took very seriously. A researcher is supposed to apply the principle of anonymity to protect them from consequences of revealing the information they do. It is also the respondent’s right to be treated with respect and dignity during the study. These ethical issues are expected to be adhered to when the organization is conducting its research.
Limitations faced in the exercise included language barriers since some of the participants have a different language as their first other than English. Lack of cooperation from some respondents also stood as a challenge and there were fears that they may not give accurate answers or they may take too long to respond.
Conducting a research project is an expensive activity and finances posed as a challenge. These challenges were addressed by conducting research in the most commonly used language, which was English, and using translators. There were also comprehensive explanations about the scope of the research to respondents to ensure they understood the objectives and minimize resistance. We also ensured a proper costing and allocation of funds was done before the task commenced.
There are different factors to consider when buying a smartphone as discussed earlier. However, these factors are different from the reasons as to why young people buy smartphones. This paper sought to understand these reasons by conducting a survey on 100 people aged between the age of 18 and 35.
The answers were used to build an argument for the paper and confirm the hypothesis of the study. Reasons given for acquiring a smartphone were as diverse as the backgrounds of those who took place in the survey. Responses to some of the questions in the survey and an analysis can be summarized in the figures and analysis below.
Results from the survey
For the young shoppers, friends make a significant part of their decisions, However, it was notable that when it came to a smartphone, friends didn’t play a very major role. Only a few people agreed that they bought a smartphone because a friend has one. More than 35% strongly disagreed to the implication that they bought a phone because some close to them had one.
As evident from the figure below, it is evident that a big number of the participants didn’t have an opinion on the question, meaning that there was a high possibility one might consider getting a smartphone because a friend owned one. The graph below summarizes the results.
Fig. 1: I bought a smartphone because my friend has one
Even though a big number of the participants argue that they would not buy a phone simply because a friend had one, the level of influence among the youths to purchase a device is very high. This is evident from the response the participants gave when asked whether they had ever influenced a friend to buy a smartphone.
More than a quarter of those who responded to this question said they had influenced a friend to buy a smartphone. Furthermore, 30% of the participants lacked an opinion on that thought, creating further room for such a possibility. Such a response reveals the need for smartphone companies to ensure satisfaction among its youthful users, since they serve as a marketing avenue by influencing their peers to have one. The results to the question on whether they had influenced someone into buying a smartphone can be summarized below;
Fig. 2: I motivated a close friend to buy a smartphone
The issue of affordability was also raised in the study. Those who answered yes to the question on whether they is the reason they owned a smartphone were more than a third of the participants. Those who strongly agreed were more than 10%, while those who agreed were almost a quarter of those who participated in the survey.
This reveals a culture among the youths where affordability plays a significant role in their decision to acquire a device. Going by the large number of participants who agree they have a smartphone because they can afford one, it is a wake-up call for the smartphone companies to make the device more affordable to the youthful clients.
30% of those who responded to this question did not have an opinion, which means that it was a possibility. Making the product affordable would therefore mean that more than 60% of the youths would own a smartphone simply because it was affordable. The response to this question can be summarized as follows;
Fig. 3: I bought a smartphone because I can afford one
As established by the survey, family plays a very small role in the youths’ decision to acquire a smartphone. Out of the 100 participants, less than 5% agreed that they bought or would buy a smartphone because they did not want to feel less than their family members. Almost 50% strongly disagreed to this notion, perhaps from the fact that for those who might be youngest in their families, the older members of the family would have less value for such products.
The issue of age and preference came out clearly from a question where the participants were supposed to confirm on whether they felt they had a lesser need for smartphone as they grew older. Though the situation may be different now for the older people who feel they are too old for such devices, the participants strongly disagreed that they would have a lesser need for a smartphone as they grew older. Their opinion on the role of the family status and the needs for a smartphone can be summarized in figure 4 below.
Fig. 4: I bought a smartphone because I don’t want to feel less than my family members
Interestingly, a good number of the youths who felt obligated to influence the younger people than them to appreciate technology by owing a smartphone were quite significant. Participants were divided right at the middle when it came to this question even though the number slightly leaned towards the disagreeing group.
5% of those surveyed agreed that they acquired or would acquire a smartphone for this purpose, while 25% agreed to the same. 30% of the participants remained without an opinion on whether they bought a smartphone to influence and motivate the younger ones to stay in touch with technology. Asked on whether they bought a phone to influence the young sons and brothers stay in touch with technology, the results can be summarized on figure 5 below.
Fig.5 : I bought a smartphone to influence brothers and sons stay up-to-date with technology
Prestige and status played out in the survey as seen in figure 6. An overwhelming 65% disagree to the notion that youths buy phones for the purpose of prestige. Even as smartphones get more and more sophisticated, from the survey, it is evident that prestige is the least of the reasons as to why youths acquire smartphones. These results can be summarized as follows;
Fig. 6: I bought a smartphone because I am prestigious
As opposed to fashion and other industries where celebrities and famous people influence the decisions of the youth, the trend seems to be different in the smartphone industry. An overwhelming 80% disagreed to the question on whether they bought a smartphone because a famous player used one. As evident in figure 7, the number of those who agreed was least compared to the rest of the questions.
Fig. 7: I bought a smartphone because a famous player uses it
As is expected, work requirements and love for technology are not major drives among youths in their love for smartphones. Asked on whether they bought a smartphone because their work required it, the response was as shown in figure 8.
The biggest number of participants did not any response to the question and only a third agreed to the fact that work had an influence on their having a smartphone. This brings into play the role of organizations in the smartphone industry. Samrtphone providers can work with different companies and organizations to influence their employees use smart devices by encouraging an stronger embrace to technology.
Fig. 8: I have smartphone because my job requires
Even though a love for technology is a common drive for people who own a smartphone, the results from this survey revealed that it was a much bigger influence. 50% of the respondents agreed that they owned or would own a smartphone for their love of technology. A response to that part of the survey is summarized on the chart below;
Fig. 9: I like keeping up with technology
Marketing, advertising, branding and marketing departments play a significant role in the performance of any product in the markets. These areas of business influence a product’s image to the public, accessibility of its products, brand image, customer loyalty, sales volumes and the products’ strength against competition.
Depending with the nature of a product and a business’ budget, these roles can be assigned to different people or be managed by one person or department. Some businesses will prefer to handle their own marketing needs and outsource the rest, while some will have all the departments as part of the company.
Form the survey; it is evident that influence plays a significant role in youths’ decisions to buy a smartphone. It is also important to realize that the influence isn’t just from friends and family, but the companies to have a chance to influence the young people preferences in the markets.
Marketing plays a significant role in influencing the youths buy a smartphone, and even work with a specific brand. This is achievable through responsibilities such as measuring the business’ strategy success, managing marketing budgets, ensuring timely delivery of products to the youths, approving products’ images, developing marketing guidelines and making decisions based on customer needs.
Marketing contribute largely to how youths respond to a product in the market by directing the marketing plan, which the company is heavily dependent on for its success. It puts a business in a well informed position regarding competition and opportunities. This in turn affects the business’ profitability and ability to establish long term success.
In any smartphone company, anyone in the advertising position is supposed to have exhaustive information about the industry in which the business is in, competitors’ strategies and the needs of the market at that particular time. In this case, it is important to understand the needs of the youths and how they can be met.
Advertising in this industry is responsible for creating and directing advertising campaigns that can penetrate the market and offer what is expected of them by customers. It is the responsibility of the advertising director to raise brand awareness and recognition in the market.
Any smartphone company that wants to stay ahead in the markets as far as the young people are concerned must also be responsible for developing brand strengthening strategies. They must be aggressive in implementing creative brand building strategies, and developing artistic campaigns and advertisements for a brand.
Advertisement directors definitely need to play a major role of ensuring a smartphone company can capture the young people. Their decision making and factors that influence the process is quiet unpredictable as evident from the survey. A good product’s image is bound to attract the youths, last long in the market and reduce the need to redesign brand images, which results in minimize costs of doing business.
Through constant monitoring and campaigns, it is easier to identify areas that are not working in the company’s marketing strategy. It is then easier for the business to make necessary changes in a timely manner and operate within or close to the set budget limits. Through such surveys, it is possible for companies to identify what appeals to youths most, and what might be a waste of money in their advertisement campaigns.
It is evident that the needs of the youths and their preferences are constantly changing and evolving. What might be thought as a major factor in their purchase decisions might be completely untrue. For example, while celebrities have had a lot of influence on young people’s decisions to use a product, it is evident from the survey that this might not be the case with smartphones.
When asked on whether they would buy a smartphone just because a famous player was using it, the response was an overwhelming no. There is therefore need to stay close to the young people and ensure that their needs and preferences are well understood.
According to Belch & Michael (2000), “public relations are fundamentally the art and science of establishing relationships between an organization and its key audience”. For a long time, smartphone ompanies paid very little attention to this department, since they assumed that this is a product that is readily needed in the markets. Today however, it is evident that it may be the most important departments in any smartphone company.
It plays an important role in helping businesses create a healthy relationship with its customers and other stakeholders. This way, a company is able to understand the constantly changing needs of the youths in the industry. The objective of a public relations department is to put in place healthy and efficient ways of a two-way communication between the business and its outside environment, in this case the youthful customers.
The most important role of public relations director in a smartphone company in such a scenario would include informing the youths about the company’s products, policies and any other information that attracts their interest and helps them understand the markets better.
Another important role of the public relations director is to reach government representatives and legislators, to ensure that their devices are compliant with all the legal requirements, and meet all quality standards. This is particularly important in an age where youths face constant security threats by the amount of information they divulge to different people when using their smart devices. There is need to ensure that customers are constantly reassured and understand the consequences of their actions.
Managing available information in the market
Nearly every organization today is faced with a challenge of coping with constantly changing information systems and needs. This is the same for the smartphone industry. In order to stay in touch with the customers’ needs, there is a need to stay in touch with the markets through interaction and feedback.
This may result in overwhelming amounts of information and data. Businesses that have been around for a long time have had to adjust from ledger cards to keeping up with big volumes of information generated in the digital era.
The speeds at which information flows in today is making it hard for organizations to keep up. “As we move rapidly into the future, leaders face the challenge of being effective in a global knowledge environment” (Solove, 2006). “Today, leaders have to undertake the responsibility of helping their organizations cope with the challenges they face from expanding knowledge and knowledge systems” (Nedja & Ajith, 2007).
Knowledge management is of paramount importance in businesses today, especially in a competitive and vibrant industry such as the smartphone industry. It comprises of many tasks and initiatives to enable a business create, represent, distribute and adopt data and information.
As a part of their business strategy, many businesses today have a department and resources strictly dedicated to knowledge management. There are also many consulting companies coming up to help businesses understand the role of this significant aspect of business. In the smartphone industry, companies contract researchers to do market survey and collect feedback from users, a majority of whom are the young people.
When managing information from a very flexible group such as the youths, knowledge management is concerned with creating competitive advantages and innovations to improve performance. It also plays a major role in ensuring continuous improvement and accurate interpretation of data.
It is clear that knowledge management is attracting a lot of attention in both small and big organizations today. This survey and the unexpected results and feedback prove the need to constantly interact with the markets and get up-to-date feedback from customers. This is also from the realization that it is impossible for a business to succeed in today’s constantly changing markets without proper investments in knowledge and information.
In order for businesses to become and stay truly globally competitive, it is important for them to recognize that information is required to support decisions at various levels of business. In order for them to stay relevant to the young people, there is need to be in touch with them, collect feedback from them constantly, and convert it into knowledge that is valuable to a business.
“In a world overloaded with information, there is need for emphasis on not just more information, but actionable intelligence that is capable of guiding decisions in a business” (Hayun, Sam & Gavin, 2009). Therefore, knowledge management, which creates competitive intelligence in a business, must be positioned in a way that it can easily identify threats capable of negatively impacting the business in its external environments.
The other function of knowledge management processes is to identifying new opportunities for the organization, which hopefully leads to new innovations, which will in turn create more benefits and productivity for the organization.
Designing and implementing knowledge to be a valuable asset
Implementing knowledge management may take place in different models which will not be discussed in this paper. However, regardless of the model used, the entire process must be guided by the company’s strategy. Constant guides for the process must take into consideration the mission, vision and strategic objectives of a company.
There are several areas that must be considered fundamental for the success of knowledge management. They include top management support, unfiltered access to information, knowledge management teams and resources, and professional knowledge on how to implement the process.
Cultural support in a company is important as the whole team must be willing to adjust and adapt to changes that may be brought about by the implementation of the process. When dealing with the youths, a company and its team must place itself in a place where it fully understands their needs, as well as availing solutions to their advantage.
Clear priorities and key intelligence needs must be well identified and specific enough. In the smartphone industry, the process must have set objectives, products or outputs. This will enable the team to develop a clear route of development and be able to easily monitor progress.
Each model is based on simultaneous development of both capacity and infrastructure development and value addition. “Each process theoretically starts with the development of capacity and infrastructure but the process of adding operational value is initiated soon after management has brought in the concept of knowledge management.
The survey reveals that many assumptions made by companies may be untrue. This is evident from the fact that the results in this paper did not fully agree with the hypothesis. Young people are buying smartphones for more solid reasons rather than peer influence and prestige. For the reason, the process of knowledge management will only be useful if a business is dealing with factual information from a market and not assumptions.
For the process to be successful and effective, it is important for the management to support the information management tools and have a clear and shared vision for the function. When this support is not available, the function seizes to be viewed as important and priority is no longer placed on it.
It is important for the management to be open and appreciate new tools for decision-making. They should also appreciate that the function of knowledge management is an important support for the business’ landscape. Every business in this industry should always maintain a healthy level of pressure for change to allow implementation of new business tools such as knowledge management.
Good leadership is important for a successful business in this industry. Having a leader who is in touch with the young people’s needs is a critical advantage as has been evident in Apple Inc. under the leadership of the late Steve Jobs. It is therefore critical that a company identifies someone who is actively involved in the markets to lead processes such as products developments.
A year ago, the biggest need among the youths in a device was its ability to serve as a music player, allow them to plays games and communicate. Today, these needs have changed to the need for quality imaging, video communication and sharing information. This goes to show that the needs among the young people will never remain fixed and will constantly change.
The management should therefore find or appoint the most suitable person to oversee and drive the process of managing products designs and manage information from the youths. Apart from having extensive and professional knowledge on the concept of knowledge management, the leader must be well conversant with the business and have healthy relations with the targeted market, in this case the youth.
Timing and readiness are important elements when implementing information management in any smartphone market. Since most companies are today overloaded with other core operations, timing is an important consideration in adding another operation to the already existing load.
The plan and timing must make it easy to integrate knowledge management with other initiatives in the company. It should also be easy to integrate it to the organization’s culture and decision-making. “The requirement to be able to fulfill the entire scope of functions is more important than where the function is positioned” (Dziri, 2011).
Knowledge management for a product targeting the youth should be positioned in a place where it is able to look out for significant changes that may impact the competitive future of the business. The author continues to point out that the function is more effective when positioned as high up in the organization as possible where it will have unfiltered access to the major decision-makers in the organization.
Benefits of information and knowledge management in a vibrant market
The most important thing that leadership can do in the smartphone industry is understand the importance of knowledge management in managing their brands and work towards implementing its success. For the big players such as Nokia, selecting a well experienced knowledge officer will enhance the business’ capacity to integrate and benefit from such a business tool.
In such a vibrant, competitive and unpredictable market, knowledge management has many benefits in modern times, especially those operating in more than one market. Among the most important benefits is its ability to promote stability in today’s ever changing environments. In an era where information streams in every second, it is very important for a business to be able to convert it to information and to knowledge.
Timely delivery in this market is critical. When a product is delayed, it might get into the market when it is already considered outdated or no longer relevant. Knowledge management provides businesses with a capability for timely delivery of goods.
Multinational organizations such as Nokia and Apple Inc. today need effective and modern strategies in their supply chain systems to ensure reliability and customer satisfaction. In this case, knowledge management is important in ensuring proper communication between customers, manufacturers, transporters, warehouses and chain managers
Another important benefit of knowledge management is the fact that it makes it more feasible for businesses to specialize. When businesses have the ability to sort out information and knowledge, it is easier for leaders in different departments to only focus on what they require and save time that would otherwise have been used to sort out all the information available. Knowledge management has made leadership easier by allowing people to focus on specific needs of the business at any particular time. The result of this is satisfaction and an improved level of loyalty to a product among the users.
Leaders in a business can access knowledge in three different stages. They can access it before, during or after knowledge management activities. As different organizations try various incentives to capture knowledge, it is clear that leadership plays a critical role in implementing knowledge management strategies. “Leaders have the responsibility of making content subscription mandatory and incorporating rewards into performance measurement plans” (Belch & Michael, 2000).
Active management of knowledge is a commonly used strategy by leaders today. In this strategy, every department in the organization has the responsibility of encoding their knowledge into databases and being able to retrieve it whenever it is needed.
Another commonly used strategy is managing information at a central location and having making available to leaders when they need it. The leaders then have the responsibility of converting the available information to helpful knowledge, on their own or with the help of experts.
As knowledge management becomes more and more important, more consultancy businesses are coming up to help businesses understand the millions of gigabytes of information coming in everyday. Many companies with a global presence such as Nokia may need expatriate services, since the business deals with many business environments at the same time.
Satisfaction as a factor
From this study, it is evident that it is not easy to point out one single factor that youths consider before buying a smartphone. To ensure that they stay loyal to a product, satisfaction is critical. It is through satisfaction that they will be willing to try a brand again when getting a new device, and recommend to their friends and family.
Taking into consideration the high number of respondents who said they have influenced someone into buying a smartphone, having a satisfied customer is critical for the success of any brand. The youth are very vibrant people and are a good group to do marketing through the word of mouth.
Satisfaction can be measured through various ways. It can be measured by availability of a product, affordability and the experience that the customer has with the product. However, for a business to ensure satisfaction among its users, it must be in a position where it is able to maintain and sustain what they are offering through having a viable strategy. The industry’s cost structure is an important factor when evaluating a market and its viability.
Cost structures play a big role in a product’s indirect costs and consequently, profitability. A company may not be able to sell a certain product or have satisfied customers in a market whose cost structure is too high even though the product may have a very low production cost.
The cost is dependent on many things among them the market share a business holds and the amount of sales. For a vibrant product such as a smartphone, a small market share industry at the moment may increase the market’s cost structure for it, putting a company in a disadvantaged position.
Continual improvement is a big part of customer satisfaction. It is one of the focuses in the smartphones industry’s modern research projects. A company must be willing to seek continual improvement of its products’ quality while reducing the cost of doing so. Being in such a competitive industry, customer satisfaction will have to be on top of any brand’s priorities.
It will be made possible by ensuring quality assurance through continuous improvement. Logistics will play a major role in quality assurance by ensuring supplies are available and are handled with proper care during transportation and storage to ensure that products delivered to a customer are of the highest quality.
In order for the youths to play a significant role in the markets, there is need to encourage consumption among them. This means that promotion strategies must be aimed at meeting consumers from different places, especially the urban market which is largely targeted. Promotion for such an industry must include use of video and print advertisements, audio channels and most importantly, e-marketing where most young people can be reached.
A big percentage of the target market in the smartphone industry is today aged between 18 -25 years, an age group that is more excited about technology. This further makes it easy for business to reach them through e-marketing. Most suitable e-marketing strategies include use of social groups such as facebook and twitter, email advertising, videos posted on the internet and use of a well informing and attractive website.
The product’s’ reputation largely serves as an advantage to a business that has been able to develop the best in the market. The high level of quality exhibited in a device can be used to prove a brand’s commitment to customer satisfaction. The foundation on which a product is built is based on putting customers’ needs first and ensuring a good experience with a device.
A promotion campaign and market strategy must therefore be focused on selling these strong points. Acquisitions and partnerships are a good way to build the business’ position in the any developing market and must therefore be put into consideration.
Any brand with intentions of working with the youths as a target market must be willing to work on pricing. While people aged below the age of 40 are the majority consumers of smartphones, the issue of pricing still remains thorny. Highly priced smartphones lock out a very large number of youths that would be more than willing to acquire a smartphone for a cheaper price.
A brand that is intends to market its products to the young people must base their pricing on several key trends that continually shape the economic trends of different markets. Factors that affect pricing include the cost of production, target market, competitors’ pricing, consumers’ wealth, spending habits, among many others. The industry can take advantage of the big population of the youths in many countries and register even higher levels of profitability by making the products cheaply available and focusing on volumes.
Significance of the study
This study is significant in understanding the smartphone industry. It is significant for us as students especially in understanding the factors that influence consumers’ decision to make a purchase. Furthermore, this study is a humble contribution to the marketing industry through understanding the youthful consumers, using the smartphone industry as a case study.
The information and data gathered in this paper can be used by marketing managers to understand what is expected by consumers in the markets, as well as drivers in different markets. It is also valuable to consumers who can use the information to understand their role in shaping brands and influencing trends in the markets. The information is especially useful to the smartphone industry where understanding consumer trends is critical in maintain a significant market share.
As defined in the begging of the paper, “a smartphone is a high-end mobile phone built on a mobile computing platform, with more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a contemporary feature phone” (Hayun, Sam & Gavin, 2009). The smartphone industry has come a long way since the invention of the first smart devices, to now when a smartphone can perform virtually all tasks which have for long been only possible if one owns a computer.
As explained by Hendricks (2010), “the smartphone industry’s rapid adoption seems to be going on and on and, at least for the time being, the end of this growth is not on the horizon”. The trend has been very encouraging in the last five years and experts point out that the current rate of growth is no news at all.
Taking a look at some of the statistics provided by different stakeholders, it is possible to have an idea on where the industry is headed to. The ABI research records that in the second quarter of 2010, smartphones made up 19% of all the phones shipped. The figure represented a 12% growth compared to the first quarter of the same year. Comparing the results with those in 2009, there was a 50% increament of smartphones shipped.
This paper was aimed at understanding factors that influence youth’s behavior towards purchasing a smartphone. The hypothesis of the paper was that youths buy smartphones because of different social, family, social and personal reasons. Some of these include the need to be a role model, prestige, age, attitude and beliefs. This study partly confirmed the hypothesis but also disagreed with some of the reason identified during the formulation of the case study.
The results proved that youths will buy a smartphone because they want to be in touch with technology, because they need one at work, and because they have been influenced by friends. A majority of the participants disagreed with the assumption that they would buy a smartphone because they don’t want to feel like lesser than their family members, or because a famous person is using one.
A majority also denied that they would buy a smartphone because a friend has one, but agreed that they have at one or more points influenced a friend to buy one. A majority of them agreed that they would buy a smartphone because they love and want to be up-to-date with technology.
From this survey, it is evident that different factors influence the youths towards buying a smartphone. It is the responsibility of a company, through surveys and feedback to collect factual information and data from the youths, and convert in to useful information that will put them ahead as far as the youths as a target market are concerned.
Collecting real-time data from the market can be done using professional researchers, social sites and other feedback avenues. This paper identifies knowledge management, satisfaction and pricing as some of the factors that will help businesses understand the youths as the majority customers in the industry.
Furthermore, continual improvement is a big part of customer satisfaction. It is one of the focuses in the smartphones industry’s modern research projects. A company must be willing to seek continual improvement of its products’ quality while reducing the cost of doing so.
Being in such a competitive industry, customer satisfaction will have to be on top of any brand’s priorities. It will be made possible by ensuring quality assurance through continuous improvement. Logistics will play a major role in quality assurance by ensuring supplies are available and are handled with proper care during transportation and storage to ensure that products delivered to a customer are of the highest quality
In this industry, profitability and customer satisfaction is the biggest measures of success for a new device in the market. Launching a new product for new entries requires a significant amount of investment making it easy for existing players to constantly dominate the markets.
Customer satisfaction has been a significant measure of a brand’s success, as is evident with BlackBerry’s success in the industry. The company has been able to find its niche in the market through ensuring satisfaction and reliability. This has made it possible for the business to achieve dominance in the corporate markets.
Different factors influence a youth’s decision to acquire a smartphone. Just like their needs keep changing, there is need for the businesses to keep their strategies updated. There is need to ensure that their strategies fit into the markets competitive trends. One way through which the companies can capture the youths is by ensuring that they have the right distribution channels.
They are important in helping a business decide on the best methods to distribute their products and ones which will ensure that products are accessible to as many customers as possible. In this case, smartphones need to ensure that the channels put in place are designed to reach the young people. Such strategies include making the products available online, having shops near places where young people frequent, as well as making their shops and attendants are friendly to the young people.
The already existing channels for smartphone companies are more direct to the customers as they are more used to them. Emerging ones will however offer them an opportunity to develop a more competitive advantage in the markets as they target the young people.
Another strategy is to develop a supply chain and logistics management strategy that allows flexibility just like the young people are in their demands and needs. The youth have very changing needs and may place a bigger demand for a completely different product from the one available in the market within a very short period of time.
The operational techniques to be used in logistics management must be aimed at sustaining quality in the industry. Using such techniques is intended at attaining better quality for products preferred by the youth and keeping it monitored at all times. Quality assurance must be a big part of a product’s success, especially because the youths are not afraid of experimenting on a new product when they are not satisfied with one.
Judging from the reasons they gave for acquiring a smartphone, it is evident that their level of loyalty for a product is quiet low and they will change preference easily. For this reason, it is important their satisfaction be at its best to give them a reason to stay with a smartphone and even refer someone else to buy it.
It is important for smartphone companies to realize that logistical management is made possible through the companies’ commitment to quality. It is through quality that manufacturers are able to have a competitive edge, especially in such a changing, competitive and wide market.
For a product with such a large market, handling information can be hectic and inaccurate without proper quality and organization. Knowing when products have been released and when they are due for delivery may be challenging without real time information, which can only be made through a logistics management that assures quality.
Continual improvement will be a big part of the smartohone’s industry. It is one of the focuses in the industry’s modern research projects. The players in this industry need to continually improve its products’ quality while reducing the cost of doing so. To target the young people, it is important to realize that price is a significant factor.
Being in such a competitive industry, customer satisfaction will have to be on top of the business’ priorities. It will be made possible by ensuring quality assurance through continuous improvement. Logistics will play a major role in quality assurance by ensuring supplies are available and are handled with proper care during transportation and storage.
Another important factor for industry’s quality assurance will be a factual approach to decision making. Such an approach can only be made possible if there is enough and accurate information for the player’s decision makers.
Logistics management will have to be in place to ensure that information collection, storage and recovery is available to the executive organ in the company. It is through market and customers information that the company will be able to sustain a mutually beneficial relationship with its clients, who provide the company with the
Marketing strategy will be a significant strategy for smartphones that want to acquire a significant market share among the youths. In order to achieve the marketing objectives, a smartphone must be packaged in a combination of local and international brands but ensure that it remains a flagship brand in the markets which it targets.
Whereas companies must design products that easily attract the young people, they should also make sure that they can easily fit into the needs of other age-groups to make it possible for the young people to refer the products to them or buy the product for them. Smartphone providers must implement measures that will ensure they gain a broader position among the youths.
A top or secondary position in the market will help definitely help a company and its product the product deliver a high target in both marketing, distribution and even production. Moreover, such a position will create the much desired platform from which the companies can further increase their smartphones range of products.
Brands doing well in other markets such as North America and Europe are good examples of how much an asset position can be. With a continued focus on other market factors such as price and quality, a product that focuses on the youthful age group will undoubtedly reach its marketing objectives.
Promotion as a strategy cannot be ignored. Like Belch & Michael (2000), put it, “the key success factors in a market include those elements which are important for a firm to achieve its marketing objectives”. They include access to essential unique resources such as communication services, a company’s ability to achieve economies of scale, accessibility of distribution channels and technological processes.
It also involves having strategies that suit the targeted market, in this case the youth. The smartphone with the best economies of scale is able to do much better than its competitors in any market and so will a product with technological resources which best suit the market.
A proper marketing strategy must ensure that the product is felt in the market, not just when it is new but in the many years that follow. “Ultimately, each product will reach its maturity stage and a decline period but how long that takes is dependent on several factors” (Belch & Michael, 2000).
These factors include ability to fight price pressure from a competing product, ability to maintain brand loyalty, how well it can hold with emergence of new products, how soon the market gets saturated, amongst many other factors. Lack of growth drivers has negative effects on a product’s performance in a market regardless of its quality or how well it can cope with pressure and competition in the market.
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