Friday, April 30, 2010

Nielsen confirms mobile revolution?

The results of a recent survey about mobile phone use habits from Nielsen, widely publicised today in all online media portals, give the strongest as yet indication that uptake of mobile phones as information and Internet access device may be reaching a critical mass level. Unfortunately, missing from quoted numbers are any indications as to how big the current population of users is, and especially comparisons to online and other media channels, but quoted percentages about information access activities relating to G3 mobile phone users can look very impressive at the first glance. I would love to get my hands on the original report because the figures quoted by the journalists leave much to interpretation but I will try to make some sense of what’s being reported:

  • 43% of all mobile phone owners in Australia have Internet - enabled handsets, 29% of those are actually accessing the Internet via their phones (equals to only 12.5% of all mobile phone users, which is not that great after all…)
  • Some 73 per cent of users conduct online searches by mobile, compared with 30 per cent a year ago (significant increase but it is still only 9.1% of all mobile phone users)
  • Other uses: checking news and weather (59 per cent, up 18 points), email (58 per cent, up 20 points), maps and directions (56 per cent, up 24 points) and social networking (39 per cent, up 25 points) – or in absolute terms: 7.3% , 7.2%, 7.0% and 4.9% respectively.
  • Among the 39% of users accessing social networking sites, Facebook is by far the most popular: 98% of respondents say they use it! Free access offers from carriers like Vodafone may have something to do with it… Twitter attracted 20% of users and MySpace 17%.
  • There is a notable drop in local search (to 27% from 33% in the previous year), mobile TV (to 6% from 8%), booking tickets (4% from 5%) and most significantly, downloading of ring tones (to 21% from 30%) – hmm, looks that there may be a glitch with the Location Based Services concept…
Published numbers refer to 2009. I will leave you to draw your own conclusions but one thing is certain - use of mobile phones for tasks other than just making calls is gaining in popularity. There is no proven business model as yet that will allow making big money from mobiles for everyone, unless you are a telco or mobile application store owner, although smaller players are starting to nibble on some revenue from the mobile sector by developing custom services and applications for sale.