The antecedents and consequences of a layered architecture of mobile handsets
Lee, Alvin Wei Ming
Date of Issue2010
College of Business (Nanyang Business School)
Apple iPhone has remade the mobile phone industry. Taken together with its App Store, industry experts are sensing a shift in the competitive landscape. Incumbents such as Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson have been attempting to regain market dominance through the launch of similar products and services. New entrants like Google and Microsoft recognize the opportunity and announced its foothold in this sector through Android and Windows Mobile respectively. They have made numerous keynote speeches highlighting their strategic focus on the mobile platform. The industry is seen to be evolving into three distinct segments; Handset, Operating System and Content. This thesis will draw upon relevant literature that applies the theory of modularization to the mobile phone industry. It will highlight how this concept, which has proven relevant in many past instances, permeates itself in this industry. The shift from monolithic to modular designs will be presented in detail leading to recent developments in the industry. Acer and Dell have showed interest in developing their own smartphones. Nokia’s acquired Symbian and made it royalty-free. Sony Ericsson has launched its own App Store, PlayNow. The report will synthesize information from multiple sources and illustrate the consequences of adopting or not adopting proposed modular architecture. Readers will also be presented projections of the industry should it evolve/not evolve into the layered architecture. The thesis is designed to allow companies to make an independent strategic assessment of technology evolution in this area so as to position themselves better to enjoy the opportunities arising during this transition.