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New Study: Mobile Phones Merging Roles of Communicator, Shopping Aide, Entertainment and Research Hub

By Jason Ankeny

Mobile phones are playing anincreasingly important role in people's daily lives -- traveling with them atall times, helping them make key shopping decisions, and connecting them toemail, coupons, location-based services, and other applications. These areamong the findings of How People Use(R) Cell Phones, a new study fromKnowledge Networks.

Three in five (60%) mobile phone owners say they carry their phones at alltimes, even inside the home -- up 50% since a 2002 KN analysis; and 32% saythey call friends or family "all the time" or "often" when making shoppingdecisions, a figure that jumps to 45% among those ages 18 to 34. When askedan open-ended question about what they dislike about their cell phones,respondents most often (15%) said, "Nothing."

Younger users want more features
Enthusiasm for a variety of mobile phone applications, such as watchingvideo or using GPS-type functions, is noticeably higher among youngergenerations. KN found that 61% of "Gen Y" consumers, or "Millennials," say"the more features the better" on a cell phone, compared with 27% of Boomers.

The study also shows that, among mobile phone owners:

  • Members of Generation Y (ages 13 to 29) send an average of 20 textmessages daily, compared to just 2 for Generation X (30-43) and less than onefor Baby Boomers (44 to 64)

  • Teens are four times as likely to report having watched TV or video ontheir phones as adults (8% versus 2%)

"Mobile phones are emerging as a powerful complement to the Web, in bothentertainment and information seeking," said David Tice, Vice President andGroup Account Director, Knowledge Networks and director of The Home TechnologyMonitor. "Many people and businesses could not function without the Webtoday, and the 'always-with-me' pervasiveness of cell phones expands the reachof Internet functionality. As standard phones get upgraded with Webconnections and location-based-features, their utility and necessity will onlyincrease. Consumers are also clearly open to mobile advertising concepts thatprovide them real value in exchange for their attention to a marketingmessage."

Other data from Knowledge Networks -- its MultiMedia Mentor mediaplanning resource, which includes single-source data on consumers' mediause -- affirms a connection between use of some advanced mobile phone featuresand heavy use of other media. For example, consumers (ages 18 to 64) who usecell phone video spend 27% more time per week with media (over 2 hours moreper day) compared to all mobile phone owners; this includes 60% more time onthe Internet, and almost triple the amount of time with videogames.

How People Use Cell Phones shows that monthly use of the Internet viamobile phones is limited to 13% of all cell phone owners -- a small butgrowing group that may be pointing the way toward the future.

The new HPU findings are produced as part of The Home TechnologyMonitor, the definitive source of information on consumers' ownership anduse of new and established media technologies, from DVRs to iPhones. Thestudy consisted of :

  • Interviews with 765 members (ages 13 to 64) of KnowledgePanel, theonly online panel that represents the full U.S. population, and

  • An in-depth ethnographic study of cellular phone use by consumers indifferent households.

Selected benchmark trends versus a KN study of cellular phone use in 2002 are also included.

The Home Technology Monitor provides the most authoritativeinformation on the media technologies consumers have access to -- fromcellular phones with video service to digital video recorders; its reportsdraw on trend data from 1981 to the present, as well as KN's trademarked HowPeople Use approach to studying consumers' interactions with media. Itsnewest report is an annual overview of Ownership and Trends in mediatechnology; to produce the study, KN conducted 2,636 in-depth interviews witha representative sample of households nationwide.

Knowledge Networks specializes in solving complex, high-impact problems,providing extraordinary quality and service to leaders in business, governmentand academia. We work closely with clients to create healthy consumer-brandconnections, effective marketing and advertising, sound public policies, andaccurate social science research. We have established respected practices inmedia, marketing, advertising, and government & academic studies. KN excelsin study design, analytics, and custom panel creation; we deliver affordable,statistically valid online research through KnowledgePanel -- the onlyavailable probability selected, nationally representative Internet panel. [FierceWireless]

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