Thursday, August 7, 2008

Are People Really Using Mobile Multimedia?


A major trend in the mobile phone arena is toward multimedia functions: the ability to download and/or listen to music on your phone, watch videos, capture photos, and browse the 'net. People must be asking for these features, or else we wouldn't be focusing so much attention on them, right? According to a recent study by research firm Parks Associates, U.S. consumers aren't exactly making use of all the fancy features available on their phones.

More than half of U.S. consumers surveyed that own a video-capable mobile phone, for example, said they've never watched a video clip on it. Interestingly, almost 40% have never played a song on their phone either! Close to 60% said they've never browsed the 'net on their mobile. This isn't surprising, though, since even the most basic phones today have web browsing capabilities and, with the high cost attached to occasional browsing, you're better off waiting until you get home!

So does this mean that consumers don't really want all the features that are being incorporated into these devices, or have they simply not reached past the eary adopter phase? Assuming these numbers are similar in Canada, we could certainly attribute them to high price tags attached to utilizing such services. Unless you purchase a pre-defined package, per/kilobit Web browsing, for example, typically costs $0.05/kb. As you can imagine, this can get pretty darned costly!

In addition to the cost factor, Parks attributes the lack of consumer uptake of mobile multimedia to the fact that people simply aren't familiar with the services, and what exactly they can offer.
"Buy before you try is always a tough sell," explains John Barrett, Director of Research at the company. "Many consumers are hesitant to pay for a new, unfamiliar service, but they will remain unfamiliar with the service until they or someone they know uses it."

Barrett suggests that a "free taste" could help entice customers to get on board with features like mobile video. He uses Japan and South Korea as examples of countries where such services are free, and there's widespread adoption . In Italy, he adds, additional fees are required, and usage has, not surprisingly, been limited there. "It's in everyone's interest to offer some free programming."

The "3 months free" offer has pretty much been standard across various industries. Perhaps the mobile phone industry should look into adding such promotions to encourage customers to use these advanced features and functions.

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1 comment:

Henry said...

The average consumer (like my parents) won't care if it is free. Watching tv or videos on 2.5 inch screen is just not an enjoyable experience. Especially when there is a 50" LCD tv in the living room. Why the rush? I think the market for mobile tv is a niche, and it will stay that way.