Maria, Motorola and ME’s mobile market

Last week saw the start of one of Dubai's many glamorous sporting events, in this case the US$1million Tennis Championship. With popular Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova — Motorola’s international brand ambassador and ‘face’ — in town to compete in the event, the cellular giant’s astute local PR agency wasted no time in signing her up to do a bit of promotion for the firm while she was in town.

  • E-Mail
By  Peter Branton Published  February 26, 2006

|~|comment52body.jpg|~|Motorola’s Hassan Tavakoli with tennis star Maria Sharapova (centre).|~|Last week saw the start of one of Dubai's many glamorous sporting events, in this case the US$1million Tennis Championship. With popular Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova — Motorola’s international brand ambassador and ‘face’ — in town to compete in the event, the cellular giant’s astute local PR agency wasted no time in signing her up to do a bit of promotion for the firm while she was in town. She was duly persuaded to pose for some pictures with the regional head of Motorola, Hassan Tavakoli, and a group of local models, dubbed the, ahem, Motomarias. While Sharapova is a millionaire many times over — for her looks as much as her tennis ability — a couple of stories in the past week or so have highlighted the benefits that mobile phones can bring to those less fortunate. We don’t just mean less fortunate than sporting stars like Miss Sharapova — which let’s face it, covers most of us — we are referring to wider sections of society. First off, a man who can (almost) claim to be Sharapova’s boss, Ed Zander, CEO of Motorola, told delegates at the recent 3GSM World Conference in Barcelona this month that the mobile phone is much more than a communications tool (or a public annoyance): it can also be an engine for economic growth. “Every time you have ten more phones per 100 people, you have an increase in GDP (gross domestic product) of 0.6%,” Zander told delegates. “We stand on the brink of a new world where mobile communications will help people overcome poverty and realise their potential,” he claimed. Zander’s speech needs to be taken with a very large pinch of salt, as the saying goes. After all, his main interest was to try to persuade governments in new markets to lift regulatory barriers — hence allowing his company to sell more mobile phones. Motorola ships 31,000 units a day of its low-cost handset models (phones under US$40) and anybody with a calculator can see why he might be keen to sell a few more. With the affluent Western European and North American markets now reaching saturation point, Motorola and its rivals have to look at other, emerging, markets to create growth. The Middle East, which is going through massive changes in the telecom sector, with liberalisation starting to happen across the entire region, is clearly ripe for targeting. However, there are other indications that greater mobile penetration does lead to economic growth. Another firm to promote the benefits of mobile usage is MTC Group, which has supported a report which shows that the rapid growth of the mobile communications industry has led to economic growth in the region. Of course, MTC can hardly be accused of lacking bias either, but the evidence is still there. The future is bright, now where have we heard that before? ||**||

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code