January 28, 2005 The world's mobile phone installed base passed 1.5 billion (a quarter of the world's population) during 2004, and it is fast becoming clear that the device will be the key information portal of the future. Its global user base is now larger than either fixed line telephone subscribers or internet users, and it is growing much faster then either. As convergence impacts the functionality on offer, the device formerly known as the mobile phone is achieving incredible penetration rates not only in rich nations, but in poor and developing nations. Without the need for a costly copper wire infrastructure, these nations are leapfrogging a generation of technology and adopting the mobile phone at a startling rate - by the end of 2005 mobile phone users will have passed the two billion mark. Accordingly, a recently completed IDC study of the benefits mobile users perceive they derive makes for interesting reading.
The perceived advantages from using mobile phones tend to fall into one of the following sets of benefits- safety and security, productivity and convenience, or style and status.
Thus, while some people relish the increased productivity and convenience of having a mobile phone, others are merely satisfied with their heightened sense of safety and security when carrying these devices.
Fortunately for mobile phone vendors and wireless service providers offering emerging value-added feature sets and services, a full constituency of mobile users thrive on the style and status associated with owning the latest full-featured phones.
The study, entitled "What Makes Mobile Users Tick? The Underlying Factors of Mobile Phone Usage and Purchase Criteria" examines the fundamental reasons people use their mobile phones and reveals a number of other corollaries about mobile phone users' perceptions about their phones, such as: • Overall, productivity and convenience benefits are paramount to more users compared to other fundamental benefits, such as safety and security or style and status. • The imperatives of style- and status-conscious mobile phone users are more numerous than other types of users - overall, style and status seekers want the latest devices with new features and services. • Safety and security seekers are minimalists - that is, they are more typically price-conscious users who prefer easy-to-use phones with few enhancements. • Males, more than females, rate style and status as important mobile phone benefits while females regard safety and security as more valuable.
"To capitalize on market voids, mobile phone vendors and wireless service providers must sustain technological innovations and creative marketing programs," says Dana Thorat, senior research analyst in IDC's Mobile User program.
"However, in doing so, marketers must attempt to gain a better understanding of what makes mobile users tick - that is, identifying and satisfying ever-changing user demands in order to serve increasingly diverse and fragmented markets shaped by differing values, beliefs, needs, wants, and expectations."