Case Detail

Case Summary

Motorola in the Wireless Handset Market

Case Number: 5-204-261, Year Published: 2004

HBS Number: KEL023

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Key Concepts

Technological Inertia, Incumbent Vulnerabilities, Replacement Effect, Economics, Strategy


Motorola invented mobile telephones and by the end of the 1980s came to dominate the mobile handset market with more than 80 percent market share. A few years later, Motorola faced a key strategic choice of whether to focus its considerable resources on consolidating its dominance of the analogue handset market, or to shift these resources to the emerging digital handset technologies. This decision shaped the handset industry and the role Motorola played in it for the next decade. The case provides a vivid illustration of incumbents’ puzzling inertia towards initiating and participating in disruptive technologies.

Number of Pages: 7

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Economics, Manufacturing, Strategy, Technology

Geographic: Global

Industry: Wireless Communications

Organization Name: Motorola

Organization Size: Large

Year of Case: 2000