LG Electronics, Motorola, Nokia and other mobile device manufacturers are in a fierce battle to please finicky customers as new entrants like Apple--with its popular iPhone--seek to upend the
traditional mobile phone business. It has become more important than ever to understand the psyche of consumers and why they pick one phone over another, say company executives and analysts.
Like fashion or entertainment, the cell phone industry is increasingly hit-driven, and new models that do not fly off the shelves within weeks of their debut are considered duds. Teenagers, one
of the fastest-growing markets, are especially quick to dump a brand if it loses popular appeal.
The most gadget-conscious shoppers buy new phones every nine months, twice as fast as they did a few years ago. "The strongest marketing tool is the first 20,000 people who buy the device," says Jeremy Dale, who is in charge of marketing for mobile devices at Motorola. "If they like it, they will tell their friends."