By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Much industry enthusiasm and an increasing proportion of retail shelf space have been devoted to 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz cordless phones, but 900MHz models continue to sell in significant unit volume, as the success of Atlinks's GE-branded 26938GE1 demonstrates.
The model was the first step-up in Atlinks's entry-level series of 900MHz phones introduced in 2002, adding a caller ID. Despite its longevity, the product was a top-seller by a solid margin with 2.9 percent of unit sell-through from June 2004 through May 2005, according to the The NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y.
The product beat out newer technologies and served as a testament to the power of brands and the relevance of the mass market buyer, said Paul Palermo, marketing and sales manager of Atlinks North America, a Thomson subsidiary
The 26938GE1 was introduced in May 2002 as a replacement for the 26930GE1 with an initial suggested retail of $29.99. The phone is still on the market but has since been reduced to an everyday price of about $14.99 at some key retailers, including Kmart and Wal-Mart, Palermo said.
It has been a market leader since its introduction, remaining atop the market thanks to a combination of “performance, appealing design, and affordable price point,” he contended. Despite its low cost, the 26938GE1 “has one of the industry's lowest return rates due to exceptional performance and quality,” he added.
It faced steep competition, principally from Uniden, VTech, AT&T and BellSouth, but benefited from good retail backing, Palermo continued. Indeed, national dealers frequently used the model in circulars to entice customers through their doors, with Wal-Mart and Kmart among the most aggressive advertisers, Palermo said.
Despite a cordless sea change away from 900MHz toward 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz, Palermo was not surprised by the success of a 900MHz product. “We do realize that the 900 MHz frequency is on a downward trend in the market, and cost pressures from higher frequencies — 2.4GHz and 5.8 GHz — will eventually drive out 900MHz, but customers at mass merchant stores such as Wal-Mart and Kmart are very cost-conscious and looking for the best deals possible. The 26938GE1 delivers a great value at an affordable price.”
The demand for basic phones with caller ID is also very high, making it almost a de facto standard feature in an entry-level product.
Asked if the brand played a strong role, Palermo was emphatic. “Absolutely. The GE brand has No. 1 unit market share in the telephone industry and is recognized worldwide.”
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