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IPhone -Surge in Non-Voice Communications, Driven by Smartphones: Study

November 17, 2009

Surge in Non-Voice Communications, Driven by Smartphones: Study

By Brendan B. Read
Senior Contributing Editor
Mobile Market View, a study of adult U.S. mobile phone users conducted by BIA/Kelsey with research partner ConStat reveals what many observers have been urging firms and functions such as contact centers to prepare for by selecting and training staff and regearing their solutions. That is a rapid rise in mobile device usage for non-voice communications--text messages, e-mail and Internet access--driven primarily by the proliferation of smartphones.

Among mobile consumers surveyed in October 2009 for Mobile Market View, 18.5 percent searched the Internet for products or services in their local area. This is up from 15.6 percent in 2008, and 16.7 percent connected with a social network such as MySpace (News - Alert) or Facebook, up from 9.6 percent in 2008.
Mobile Market View has been conducted in waves. The latest third wave of the study was conducted in October 2009; Wave I took place September 2007 while Wave II landed in October 2008. The study measures a wide range of mobile phone activities/behaviors. The objectives are gauging overall usage trends, assessing experience and awareness with various mobile phone features and functions, assessing usage for commercial activities, anticipating future mobile phone purchase behavior and assessing receptiveness to new business models.
“This third wave of our Mobile Market View study confirms several key trends taking shape in the rapidly evolving mobile advertising space,” says Steve Marshall, director of research and consulting, BIA/Kelsey. “Not the least among these trends is that mobile is quickly developing into a viable platform for local commercial activity.”
For marketers and contact centers especially, be prepared to get more traffic, and texts, from mobile users. Recent mobile marketplace developments--mobile-optimized Web sites, the rapid evolution and implementation of Google’s (News - Alert) Android OS, and its planned acquisition of mobile ad network AdMob--will further drive, the report says, mobile Internet use and advertising growth.
“Google is clearly interested in replicating its online dominance by positioning itself at the mobile OS level, and around the content that users increasingly consume on smartphones,” says Michael Boland, program director, Mobile Local Media, BIA/Kelsey. “Its brand affinity among users and one-stop-shop approach for advertisers will accelerate the shift of dollars spent on mobile advertising in the coming months.”
The study also reveals a growing class of ‘heavy users’ of non-voice modalities. For example, the percentage of users making more than 10 mobile Internet accesses per week continues to increase significantly, now representing over one-fifth of all mobile users.
Among mobile users:
  • 48.2 percent sent or received more than 10 text (SMS) messages per week
  • 21 percent had more than 10 Internet accesses per week
  • 20 percent sent or received more than 10 e-mails per week
Mobile Market View also indicates mobile device use for commercial searches increased across the board in 2009. Of particular interest, searches for local products or services now exceed out-of-market searches by a wide margin.
Among consumers using mobile devices:
  • 18.5 percent searched the Internet for local products or services
  • 15.9 percent obtained information about movies or other entertainment
  • 13.3 percent obtained information about restaurants or bars
  • 11.1 percent searched the Internet for products or services outside their local area
  • Four percent purchased a physical item that needed to be shipped (e.g., a book)
  • Three percent used a coupon from their mobile phone
The survey further reveals usage of mobile devices for viewing or sending video has increased appreciably, with the highest level of traffic in user-generated videos. Among those surveyed for Mobile Market View, 7.9 percent watched or purchased a TV program or segment, 11.7 percent watched or purchased a music video or Internet video and 17.7 percent sent or received videos.
“Between waves one and three of Mobile Market View, consumers have basically doubled their use of the mobile platform for non-voice communications,” says Rick Ducey, chief strategy officer, BIA/Kelsey. “This represents a fundamental and rapid shift in media use, which needs to be considered in determining the appropriate mix and spending levels among local platforms. Media companies that do not currently offer a differentiated mobile advertising option had better get there quickly.”

Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan

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