Not so smart


A staggering 25% of all smartphone users in the United States are not using their smartphones for anything aside from voice calls and text messaging, according to a fascinating piece of research recently published by Nielsen.

Although the study found that average data consumption in the US increased from about 90MB per month during the first quarter of 2009 to 298MB per month during the first quarter of 2010, this massive 230% year-on-year increase in data consumption hides the fact that service providers could be doing much more to encourage data consumption across their customer base.

Drilling down into the figures, Nielsen notes that in the first quarter of 2009, more than a third of US smartphone users used less than 1MB of data per month; a year later, this figure had dropped to a quarter, which is not surprising, given the substantial increase in the number of applications and utility of smart devices over the 12-month period.

But (and this is a very big but), it still means that about 20 million current US smartphone users are hardly using any data.

As the report concludes there is a growing need to educate smartphone users. Indeed, according to an earlier Amdocs survey, one out of six consumers are unaware of their smartphone’s advanced features or how to use them.

Service providers need to do a better job in explaining the value and utility of these powerful phones so as to drive additional application and data usage, and they need to marry the right device to the right customer. As we move to a post-voice-centric world, the more suitable the smartphone is to the customer’s usage and spending patterns, the more satisfied the customer will be and the greater the potential revenue for the service provider.

One Comment

  1. Andy Weston
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Very good points Jeff.

    In EMEA, Nokia have had over 50% of the Smartphone market (Frost & Sullivan 2008). This is mostly made up of E-series and N-series Symbian S60 smartphones, which are capable of true smartphone services, but frequently used as enhanced feature-phones. The key ‘new’ features being multi-media handling, enhanced address book (with photo contact, email address) and a carrier-portal-oriented WAP browser. Not very Smart!

    But times are changing, and iPhone, Android and RIM are pushing app stores to showcase the Smart functions, used by single or multi-purpose apps, which previously were embedded in S60 devices, but hidden in the hierarchical menu structure and hamstrung by connectivity and incompatibility between devices.

    Changing people’s habits is no small task – but it is happening – slowly.

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