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Wednesday, 30 September 2009 18:10

Changing Australian mobile phone habits revealed as market matures

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The global financial crisis continues to reverberate around the world but in Australia, at least, one business sector - the ever changing telecommunications industry – is experiencing rapidly increasing consumption of non-voice/text services, including multimedia, content, information and entertainment services by consumers as mobile phone usage matures.
 

The Australian Interactive Media Association (AIMIA), in its just released Australian Mobile Phone Lifestyle Index (AMPLI), found that we Australians are now beginning to use our mobile phones to access banking services and to make payments across a variety of commerce platforms.
 
According to AIMIA CEO, John Butterworth, this year’s survey reveals many Australians are now using their mobile phones in all aspects of their lifestyles, “with a strong jump in the consumption of non-voice services. 

“Despite user dissatisfaction at the perceived high cost of data plans, Australians have become more attracted to buying and using content, information, multimedia and other data services such as social networking and email.  There is also growing interest in receiving advertising via mobile handsets.”

The report also found that Australians are beginning to use their mobile phones to access banking services and to make payments across a variety of commerce platforms.
 
“This year’s survey reveals many Australians are now using their mobile phones in all aspects of their lifestyles, with a strong jump in the consumption of non-voice services,” said John Butterworth, CEO for AIMIA.  “Despite user dissatisfaction at the perceived high cost of data plans, Australians have become more attracted to buying and using content, information, multimedia and other data services such as social networking and email.  There is also growing interest in receiving advertising via mobile handsets.”

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AMPLI is a collaborative industry research project and was carried out during June this year by the AIMIA Mobile Industry Group (MIG), m.Net Corporation and Ideal Interfaces, with the final report of the group authored by Dr Marisa Maio Mackay, director of research, m.Net Corporation and Oliver Weidlich, usability specialist at Ideal Interfaces.

According to Dr Mackay, despite the global economic uncertainty of the past 12 months, the uptake of mobile services in Australia “has not only survived but has grown in spite of it.  Mobile phone services have now truly entrenched themselves as a commodity in the lives of many Australians.”

Other findings of the AMPLI survey showed that Nokia mobile phone ownership remains the same as last year (47%), followed by Sony Ericsson (12% again), with Samsung in third place (11% again).
 
Motorola, however, dropped from equal second last year to sixth (5%) as Apple entered the report for the first time at nine percent.  Interestingly, according to the survey, males aged between 26 and 40 were more likely than expected to say they owned an Apple handset, while females were less likely than expected to say they owned an Apple.

Key findings also included:

•    People who are single and living with their parents were more likely than expected to be on 3 Mobile.  They were also more likely than expected to say they owned an LG or Sony Ericsson phone.  Married people were more likely than expected to be with Telstra.

•    Overall satisfaction with carrier services is high, with around 90% of respondents satisfied with the service provided by their carriers.  Of particular interest, satisfaction levels with the range of plans and packages available remains high.  However, the cost of accessing data services remains an issue for respondents, with the lowest level of satisfaction (51% of respondents).

•    While there was a significant decrease in the number of respondents who were on prepaid (25%) phone plans, just under one third of respondents stated that their payment plans included a data allowance.  Of those respondents that had a data allowance included in their monthly plan or pre-paid amount 43% had more than 50 MB included.  Around one quarter of respondents with a data allowance did not know how much data was included in their payment option.  Of the respondents that had a data allowance, 18% purchased additional data packs or allowance.

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This is the first time specific questions regarding data allowance and data packs has been included in the AMPLI survey, which the AIMIA says is recognition of the increasing maturity of the market, in terms of carrier communications around pricing plans and options, and equally as important, as the increasing engagement of mobile phone owners with services on their mobile phones.

The survey also revealed a substantial increase in the proportion of respondents (63%) who said they had a 3G or 3.5G mobile phone which the AIMIA concludes is “most likely a reflection of the Australian market ‘growing up’ in terms of knowledge and understanding of mobile phones, and the services they can provide.
 
The AIMIA also said that some 71% of respondents to the survey said that they used their mobile phone to access information and entertainment content and services in the last 12 months, “indicating growth in both usage and purchase behaviours.”

On this score, the survey found that entertainment services and content is being enjoyed in a variety of formats including video (19%), images (19%), SMS (17%) and audio e.g. podcasts (16%), while in terms of ranking, patterns observed were:

•    Games maintained its number one ranking
•    Ringtones increased in ranking from (up from 3)
•    Music downloads (up from 5)
•    Wallpapers (down from 2)
•    Videos (up from 6) and screensavers (down from 4)

The survey also found 48% (up 12%) of respondents had used or visited an information service in the last 12 months, with weather, news and location/traffic services being the most popular categories, while across the board, consumption of each category of information services has increased, with information services being enjoyed in a variety of formats including text on a mobile site, images and video.

And, there’s also been an overall increase in the acceptance of advertising on the mobile phone since 2007.  Of interest was the fact that 39% of respondents stated that they would accept ads on their mobile phone in exchange for free mobile content or special offers, and 56% of respondents stated that they would accept ads from companies with whom they have agreed to accept ads.


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