As mobile networks engage in a very public ad campaign war, carrier Verizon Wireless was named the mobile networks brand of the year among consumers, according to the 2011 Harris Poll EquiTrend study. In the mobile networks category, Verizon was highest ranked for the second year running over archrival AT&T. Harris Interactive announced its technology brands of the year in four other major categories: mobile phones (Motorola), consumer electronics (Sony), computer hardware (HP) and gaming (Nintendo). Overall, awards were given in each of 46 different categories.
"Since the change in the portability of phone numbers, switching mobile phones and mobile networks is significantly easier," said Jeni Lee Chapman, executive vice president of brand and communications consulting with Harris Interactive. "Verizon's strong brand equity can have a large impact when consumers have a choice."
Motorola, buoyed by "strong familiarity" and a "significant improvement" over last year, led the mobile phones category, followed by HTC and Sony Ericsson. Nokia ranked fourth and iPhone manufacturer Apple ranked just above industry average, is fifth. Motorola offers both smart and feature phones, with the latter remaining a popular choice among consumers.
"Apple may have the market cornered on technology enthusiasts, but Motorola satisfies a much wider audience," Chapman said. "There is still a large audience of consumers that aren't interested in a smartphone running their life, and Apple doesn't have a product to meet that need."
Sony continued to be the market leader in consumer electronics, closely followed by Samsung, Panasonic and LG, who have all gained ground, narrowing the gap in brand equity. The report noted, in particular, Samsung and LG's emergence and maturation in the space is reflected in its increased brand equity. Legacy brand computer hardware brand HP ranked highest in the computer category, while Apple placed second and Dell placed third. In the highly competitive gaming category, Nintendo ranked highest, followed by competitors Sony and Microsoft's Xbox.
The scores were based on polling of just more than 25,000 U.S. consumers ages 15 and over between Jan. 11 through Jan. 27, 2011, with a total of 1,273 brands rated in 53 separate categories. Each respondent was asked to rate a total of 60 randomly selected brands and each brand received approximately 1,000 ratings. Data was weighted to be representative of the entire U.S. population of consumers ages 15 and over on the basis of age, sex, education, race/ethnicity, region, and income, and data from respondents ages 18 and over was also weighted for their propensity to be online.
The EquiTrend study evaluates measures including: equity, consumer connection, commitment, brand behavior, brand advocacy, and trust. The keystone to the program is equity, which provides an understanding of a brand's overall strength and is determined by a calculation of familiarity, quality and purchase consideration.
Despite the leading rank of Verizon Wireless and the relatively strong rating of Apple's iPhone, in February, Consumer Reports said it couldn't recommend the Verizon iPhone 4. The organization had its testers cover the gap in the lower-left portion of the iPhone 4's exterior antenna rim with their bare finger, which apparently caused a decline in performance. In areas of low signal strength, finger-blocking the antenna gap led to a dropped call.