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Branded services will make smart phones

Press release: Handsets, cost and connection speed holding back mobile internet adoption

London, 21 January, 2010: A huge 76% of mobile phone users don’t use their mobile to access the internet a UK-wide study into our mobile habits by leading research specialist Essential Research has revealed. The news comes despite industry hype around the success of internet-enabled smartphones such as Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Nexus One.

Even more surprising is that 60% of UK mobile users claim to not even own a mobile with internet access and just 30% of these are interested in getting one. The picture gets worse for mobile operators with the revelation that even for upwardly mobile internet users and owners of smartphones, one third (31%) have never used their phone to connect to the internet, a quarter (24%) use it less than once a week and 8% tried it but don’t intend to do so again.

The independent study, titled ‘Brandheld’, is the most comprehensive study of its kind researching over 2,000 mobile phone owners aged 16+ with a combination of qualitative and quantitative techniques plus ethnographic case studies. The focus of the research was developed in consultation with a number of well known brands and businesses from across the mobile industry (see Notes).

Alex Charlton, Partner at Essential Research which conducted the study over six months in 2009 comments: “This type of research doesn’t often see the light of day, and what we’ve found is pretty surprising news: there is an enormous gulf between the perceptions we hold about mobiles being a big part of our Internet lives and the reality. In fact only a small percentage of us are truly internet mobile users and the industry has a big job to do to move mobile internet into our everyday lives.”

Despite lower than expected adoption and usage of mobile internet however, consumer appetite for mobile media services, such as live TV and radio, is strong. 86% of current mobile internet users and 56% of non-mobile internet users report they would be willing to use services via their mobile phone.

…/more

Holding back the mobile revolution are barriers intrinsic to the ability to use mobile internet services, so called “hygiene factors”; speed of connection, the cost of mobile internet and handset battery life. Tellingly, even when cost isn’t part of the equation, half of us (57%) who have tried to get online with a mobile and failed reported that they found the technology too difficult to use, access to website was impossible and the mobile internet experience didn’t meet their expectations.

The biggest driver of mobile internet adoption to date is social. Almost as many daily mobile internet users (70%) use social media services including social networks, instant messenger, blogs and forums on their phones as they do on their computer (79%). In some cases mobile applications for services like Facebook and Twitter are replacing computer access.

The ability to perform everyday activities such as checking real time travel updates (33%) and tracking in-store offers, coupons and vouchers (31%) were the most interesting to those that don’t currently use mobile internet. Furthermore, they deemed well known brands the most appropriate to provide services for mobile internet spheres with 30% saying that they would like their favourite supermarket to offer grocery related services and 29% claiming that they are interested in their banks or building societies providing financial related services.

Charlton continues: “With high profile marketing campaigns all around us, consumers are aware that they can use their mobile to check their email and use Facebook. What we’ve shown here is that there is a genuine interest from consumers to engage with brands that they already connect with and use their mobiles as an extension to their everyday lives.

“There is a role for all of us to play in making the mobile internet a more attractive proposition to the mass market and the opportunity is massive. Our research highlights the task at hand to commercialise and monetise the mass mobile market and we have unique insight into what needs to happen to enable this. Brands hold the key.”

For more information on the ‘Brandheld’ study findings, please contact EssentialResearch_at_championcomms.com (change _at_ to @)/ +44 (0) 20 7268 3076.

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors:

The ‘Brandheld’ study was developed in consultation with 3, BBC, BSkyB, BT, Carphone Warehouse, Channel 4, Garmin, Global Radio, Google, IAB, IPC Media, ITV, MBlox, Microsoft Advertising, MTV, NBC Universal, Ofcom, Orange, Saffron Digital, Sony Ericsson, UKTV, Vodafone, Yahoo!

The study was conducted over six months between June and December 2009 and involved hundreds of research hours using the following techniques and sample:

Ethnography

  • 10 ethnographic studies over 3 months
  • Including 2 visits, 1 at home and 1 out and about
  • Handset placement and/or task setting
  • Longitudinal respondent video diary

Qualitative research

  • 8 discussion groups
  • 5 accompanied shops
  • 5 anonymous interviews with store assistants

Quantitative research

  • 30 minute quantitative survey
  • 2,000 UK adults aged 16+
  • Weighted to the offline universe

About Essential Research

Essential is a research consultancy specialising in Media, Communications, Technology and Entertainment. Our clients include Microsoft, MTV, the BBC, Channel 4, Ofcom and 3 and we’ve worked on everything from the launch of new TV channels to consumer expectations of mobile video. Essential was established in 2005 by three former BBC executives; Luca Antilli, Stuart Knapman and Alex Charlton and in December 2007 was voted “Best New Agency” by the Market Research Society.

Please visit www.essentialresearch.co.uk for further information.

Media Contact:

Champion Communications

E: EssentialResearch_at_championcomms.com (change _at_ to @)

T: +44(0) 207 268 3076

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13 comments to Branded services will make smart phones

  • Chris Elvidge

    Do you make a distinction between 3G/HSDPA/EDGE and WiFi usage?

    • Hi Chris

      In the ethnographic stage of our research, the handsets we placed with participants had wifi and many of the potential barriers were just as pronounced. They were frustrated that the connectivity and speed would differ from place to place, and couldn’t understand why.

      In our survey, we are able to make a broad distinction between different types of connectivity (broad because a) not everyone was able to identify what phone – and thus connection – they had and b) coverage will vary depending on network/area and whether they have a wifi subscription).

      Unsurprisingly, people with wifi or a fast connection are more likely to use the internet on their phone. However,many with fast connections are still not using them. Those accessing the mobile internet tend to be early adopters who are comfortable with technology and can see obvious benefits (e.g. checking social networks on the go). To get the less tech savvy and those who have different needs for a mobile internet to adopt the technology, we believe a greater emphasis is needed on the unique benefits the mobile internet can offer – such as travel or location-based information, or vouchering. Brands and services have a vital role to play in this.

      Best,
      Simon

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  • [...] is the finding of the six month Brandheld study by Essential Research. Barriers to adoption include handset limitations, perceived costs of mobile [...]

  • [...] from Brandheld indicates 24% of UK mobile phone owners aged 16 or over think they have a smartphone (given our [...]

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