Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

U.S. Mobile Internet Consumer Landscape

ComScore released the results of a study evaluating the behaviors and attitudes of mobile phone subscribers. The findings are based on a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. wireless cell phone users, providing comprehensive insights into consumer satisfaction, factors influencing purchasing decisions, mobile Internet adoption, and wireless customer migration.

The study found that price has become an increasingly important factor in the purchasing decision and that the use of Mobile Internet among existing subscribers continues to grow, with of the majority of these users accessing the Web at least once a day.

In order to demonstrate the shifts in the wireless consumer landscape, the findings from this study were compared to results from a similar comScore study conducted in 2006, which included data from more than 1,700 U.S. wireless users. These prior findings were first published by comScore in January 2007.

"Overall study results indicate that cellular phones are quickly transitioning from being viewed by consumers as a simple communication device to a multi-functional media and entertainment consumption device," said Serge Matta, senior vice president of comScore Telecommunications Solutions.

"There is a significant opportunity for mobile carriers, advertisers and product developers to capitalize on the industry's continued trend toward consumer dependence on cell phones."

As consumer dependence on cell phones grows, it has become increasingly important for marketers to understand the factors motivating a customer to switch carriers. Similar to the 2006 comScore study results, the current study found that coverage, price and family or friend connectivity continue to be the strongest factors in driving consumer's wireless purchasing decisions.

However, the 2008 study found that consumer's focus on price has increased, while coverage does not have the commanding lead it once had as a factor. This may be the result of the perception that coverage among leading carriers has become more comparable. In the 2006 study, for example, consumers cited better coverage twice as often as lower price when noting the primary reason for choosing a wireless service provider.

According to the latest survey results, this gap narrowed significantly, with 22 percent of respondents saying better coverage was the main determinant compared to 19 percent who said lower price was their primary reason for switching to their current cellular carrier.

Just as cost proved to be an important factor when choosing a mobile carrier, cost-savings also plays a role in selecting a mobile plan. In fact, the three most important features cited when choosing a new wireless plan were unlimited off-peak minutes, free in-network calling and the ability to rollover unused minutes. Notably, each of these features is directly associated with cost.

Additional comScore study findings Include:

- Thirty-three percent of survey respondents said they do not have a landline, which is an increase of 19 percentage points compared to the first wave of the study where only 14 percent said they did not have a landline.

- Forty-four percent of survey respondents agreed with the statement, "I feel lost without my cell phone."

- Sixty-seven percent of respondents agreed that "having my cell phone with me makes me feel safe."

- Depending on the carrier, 5 to 15 percent of customers intend to switch carriers within the next six months.