Friday, 02 June 2006 16:58

Research shows mobile content spending on the rise

There has been a huge jump in the amount of content purchased for mobile phones in the past year, according to an Ausralian consumer survey. The survey, launched by the Australian Interactive Multimedia Industry Association (AIMIA), showed two thirds of people have purchased content for their mobile phone in the past twelve months. At the same time last year, only half of those surveyed had purchased content, indicating marked growth in the mobile content industry in the last year.

The Australian Mobile Phone Lifestyle Index, sponsored by m.Net Corporation & Ideal Interfaces, is an independent consumer mobile content study designed to provide insight into the profile, behaviour and preferences of the Australian mobile phone user. This is the second edition of the report, which was first compiled in May 2005, and almost 4000 people from across Australia took part in the online survey.

The most popular content for mobile phones continues to be ringtones with nearly half having purchased one in the past year. Wallpapers were also popular with 27% having purchased at least one, while 7% of respondents had downloaded music onto their mobile phones.

The number of people using their mobile phone to access information is increasing and 59% of those surveyed had used their mobile phone to access information such as news, weather and movies in the past twelve months. When asked what sort of information they would like in the future, respondents said maps and directions (35%), weather (34%) and news content (32%).

Commenting on this, John Butterworth, CEO, AIMIA said, “This is similar to the evolution of web content in the mid-1990s when there was expansion from entertainment content to information services as consumers started to go online to access information and services that made a difference to their everyday lives – maps, directions, timetables, banking, stock information. The report clearly shows that consumers are now starting to look for more information services on the one device they carry with them everywhere – their mobile phones.”

The survey discovered that women were almost three times more likely to download content to a mobile phone than men, while men were more likely to use information services.  Most people purchase mobile phone content from the internet (51%) or from the menu on their mobile phone (26%) with the third most frequent method being the use of an SMS key word.

“In addition to gaining valuable information about the changing habits of mobile phone users and their attitudes to mobile content, the latest Mobile Phone Lifestyle Index enables us to gauge the market impact and understanding of recently launched 3G services which was a special focus of this report,” said Mr Butterworth.

While two thirds of the respondents said they do not have a 3G handset,  the survey revealed that one in four respondents was unsure if their mobile phone was 3G-capable or not. 

Commenting on this, Usability Specialist from Ideal Interfaces, Oliver Weidlich, said, “While this may be surprising to those in the mobile phone industry, from a customer’s point of view it may not matter if the phone is 3G.  As long as people can access the content and information they want quickly and easily, be it TV, faster access to information or multi-player games on mobile, they are unlikely to care what the technology is called.”

Eleven percent of those surveyed said they had a 3G capable handset, a significant number of people given the technology has only been available in Australia for three years through Hutchison, and that Optus, Telstra & Vodafone only launched their 3G services late last year.  
Those that owned a 3G phone were quite knowledgeable about the benefits of 3G and generally had positive sentiments towards the technology,” said John Butterworth.  

The key 3G services that respondents are interested in for the future are faster information services, TV on mobile and instant messaging.  Twelve percent said they will definitely or probably buy a 3G phone in the next six months. The most prevalent reason given for buying a 3G phone was that they needed a new phone anyway so it may as well be 3G. 

“The Mobile Phone Lifestyle Index provides unique insight into the needs and desires of mobile phone users. This second edition enables us a unique opportunity to track the evolving behaviours and preferences of Australian mobile phone users which we will continue to do with reports every six months,” said Mr Butterworth.

The survey was undertaken online among 3982 consumers nationally.  They ranged between 9 to 70 years of age with 81% of respondents under 46 years of age and of the respondents 71% were female, 29% male.

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Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 35 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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