The Battle for the Wireless Screen
Financial Service Online (10/00) Vol. 5, No. 10 p.24; Iversen, Wesley R.

A fierce battle is unfolding among online brokers for a share of the flourishing wireless stock trading services market. As wireless stock trading services keep pace with growth projections, online brokers have started jockeying for the choicest screen positions on the wireless portals operated by U.S. mobile phone networks and wireless handheld device manufacturers. Given the obvious financial rewards for gaining new territory in this fledgling market, it is fair to say that online brokers have adopted a "no prisoners" approach to their pursuit for dominance. Brokers are scrambling for top slotting positions, or those that appear "above the fold". These positions are so coveted, in fact, that online brokers have devised gimmicks to ensure that they get the best menu slots. Fidelity Investments, for example, has negotiated several screen placement deals that have kept competitors out of high menu spots. Fidelity used similar tactics in a deal that involved the wireless Palm VII handheld organizer, which as part of the arrangement, came preloaded with the Fidelity application. The challenges brokers will likely face are many. One of them is the fragmented U.S. market, which comprises various network carriers and device types. An illustration of this is the fact that the United States currently has at least five primary mobile phone carriers, not to mention numerous regional carriers.


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