Fancy phones sell, but services lag

Consumers are flocking to phones with advanced data features, but not that many are using the services operators want them to, two surveys said

Consumers in both the U.S. and Europe are flocking to phones with advanced data features, but not that many are using the services operators want them to, according to a pair of recent surveys.

About 60 percent of all home broadband users in the U.S. have a mobile device that can reach the Internet, but only 5 percent actually use them for that purpose, research company Media-screen said in its Netpop Pocket survey announced Wednesday. Meanwhile, M:Metrics said phones that can play music now make up a hefty portion of sales in the U.S. and Western Europe, but few users are buying songs for them over the air.

The reports come as the mobile industry gears up for the CTIA Wireless show in Orlando next week. Carriers and other industry players are expected to promote emerging mobile data applications such as video, payments and location-based services there, with an eye to generating more revenue as voice calling minutes get cheaper.

Many U.S. mobile users steer clear of the mobile Internet because of cost, dropped connections, the size of the screen and the difficulty of finding content on the phone, said Josh Crandall, managing director of Media-Screen Consulting, in San Francisco.

One problem is that carriers make it hard for users of less-expensive limited data plans to find out how much of their monthly allocation they've used up, Crandall said. As a result, they avoid using the Internet.

"It creates an environment that is based on fear rather than interest in actually consuming services more," Crandall said.

A few music-focused phones such as the Sony Ericsson W850i have raised interest in the larger category of phones that can play music, M:Metrics said in its survey. At the high end, 40 percent of phones in the U.K. are music phones, while more than one-quarter of the handsets in Germany, Italy and Spain are, it said. In the U.S., only 17 percent of handsets can store and play music, but sales of such phones grew 385 percent in the year ended January 2007.

However, most users are "sideloading" music from their own collections into the phones rather than buying songs via the carrier. M:Metrics found 12.2 percent of mobile subscribers in the U.K. listen to sideloaded music, compared with 2.7 percent who downloaded songs from a carrier's store. Even fewer buy from carriers in Germany, France, Spain and Italy. In the U.S., 2.9 percent of subscribers listen to sideloaded music and only 0.7 percent buy from carriers.

Some carriers have frowned at sideloading, and with some justification: It's part of a trend that's cutting into their sales of personalization features such as ringtones and wallpapers, M:Metrics spokeswoman Jaimee Minney said. Thanks to Web sites that have made the process easier, many mobile users are now making ringtones out of their own music. Likewise, users with camera phones are just taking pictures and using them as wallpaper, Minney added. In the U.S., which often lags Europe in the mobile arena, ringtone and wallpaper or screensaver purchasing was up in January.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?