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.