Americans Use Cellphones for, Well, Calling

U.S. Still Lags Other Countries in Multimedia Use

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- American mobile users are still using cellphones primarily for calls, falling behind other countries in adopting them as multimedia devices, a new study by Universal McCann discovered.
Americans are increasingly using multimedia services on their phones, but at lower-than-average rates.
Americans are increasingly using multimedia services on their phones, but at lower-than-average rates.

The study, conducted in June, covered 10,000 internet-connected mobile-phone users in 21 countries. It found 65% of mobile-phone usage in the U.S. is made up of phone calls, one of the highest percentages in the world. Internet usage on mobile phones in the U.S. is above the global average -- the average U.S. user makes 12 visits a month -- but still lags behind the leading market, Japan, where users go online an average of 40 times a month, the study found.

Need multiple strategies
For marketers, the study results mean "that if you are going to do internet and online marketing, one strategy for the U.S. may not be used as a blueprint; you have to adapt it to other markets," said Graeme Hutton, senior VP-director of consumer insights at Universal McCann.

Americans are increasingly using multimedia services on their phones, but at lower-than-average rates. The study found 52% of Americans have taken a photo on their phone vs. 80% globally, 22% have recorded a video vs. 62% globally, and 24% have downloaded a game vs. 31% globally.

Americans' use of other portable technology is partly responsible for the lower-than-average adoption of mobile phones as multimedia platforms, Mr. Hutton said, adding that "here we are used to having more than one mobile device; abroad it is being focused on the phone."

Don't want do-it-all products
Just over 60% of U.S. mobile users already own three or more devices including their phone -- with more than 42% owning a portable media player, 36% owning a laptop and 67% owning a digital camera, the study found. It also found that demand for converging devices that do everything is low in the U.S. compared with other countries.

Some other findings of the study: The U.S. is the only country apart from South Korea where more people have paid for music downloads than have downloaded them illegally. More than 17% have paid for music downloads, while 15% have downloaded illegally from a peer-to-peer sharing site. Music downloads are more popular among U.S. mobile users than TV or film downloads.
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