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On the road again.

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. It retails for $1,199. The P600 has a 42-character, multiline display, function menu review, clock, calendar and 20-number memory and redial. It also has expanded alphanumeric menu functions, which allow the user to scroll through all listings. The P600 retails for $1,399.

NEC offers two battery options. The slim-line battery weighs 7.8 ounces and has an hour of talk time (12 hours of standby). The high-capacity battery weighs 8.8 ounces and has two hours of talk time (24 hours of standby).

New from Fujitsu is the pocket Commander Stylus. It uses the Extra Talk-Time battery, which weighs 12 ounces and offers 80 minutes of talk time or 13 hours of standby. With the Ultra Light battery, the Stylus weighs 10.3 ounces and offers 45 minutes of talk time or 7 hours standby. Other features include alphanumeric display, 100 number alpha memory, nine number speed dial memory, calling card memory and an individual call timer. The Stylus retails for $925.

Panasonic recently introduced the V.I.P. (Very Intelligent Phone) flip phone. It is one of the market's slimmest hand-held phones--nearly as thin as a pack of chewing gum. The V.I.P. weighs 9.4 ounces and has 200 alphanumeric memory locations, 10 last-number memory options, memory scroll and a simple word list. It uses standard batteries and provides 55 minutes of continuous talk time. Accessories include Lrapid charger kit DC adapter kit with holder for in-car use and a travel charger. The V.I.P. retails for $1,200.

Still the lightest phone on the market is Motorola's MicroTac Lite Digital Personal Communicator Telephone, which weighs 7.5 ounces, has an alphanumeric directory and auto answer. Talk time offers 45 minutes or eight hours standby. There are 150 minutes of talk time using the Talk PAK XT battery. MicroTac's suggested retail price is $1,200.

Talk's Not Cheap

Cellular users are finding that talking isn't cheap. The price of cellular phones has been reduced from $3,000 to under $300 for some models, but cellular service costs are still fairly high. Monthly usage charges could tally $500.

The largest U.S. carrier is McCaw Cellular Communications Inc. in Kirkland, Washington. Last year, with 61,716,389 subscribers, the company reported $6 million in sales.

Moreover, cellular users pay for the cells they make and the ones that they receive. And air time is charged by the minute. Users calling outside their service areas will pay a price for roaming. These extra charges are in addition to long-distance costs, usage fees and local charges.

One way to soften costs is to purchase a cellular phone from a reseller, giving you more flexibility with rate plans.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:includes an article on a new color printer from Canon U.S.A. Inc; sales of cellular phones
Author:Reynolds, Rhonda
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Column
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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