All Those Applications, and Phone Users Just Want to Talk

Mike Vorhaus on Digital Communications

By Published on .

You might be surprised what online Americans do -- or don't -- want to do on their phones. While 84% of respondents ages 12 to 64 said they own a cellphone or comparable mobile device, a plurality -- 35% -- do not care whether they have a smaller phone with fewer features or a bigger phone with more features. In fact, 31% prefer a small phone, and only 19% prefer a larger phone.

Mike Vorhaus
Photo: Stephanie Diani
Mike Vorhaus is senior VP-managing director of new media and strategy for Frank N. Magid Associates.
That phone preference is reflected in how consumers want to use the phone. We asked consumers about 26 different wireless activities, including texting, e-mailing, accessing the internet, gaming, ringtones, news and video viewing. The fact is, many consumers just want to talk on the phone or maybe text a bit. Almost half of all wireless owners are not interested in regularly using any of their cellphones' advanced data applications.

As the chart above shows, only 27% of the respondents indicated a regular interest in texting, and only 20% indicated a regular interest in checking e-mail or accessing the internet on their cellphones. Getting news clocked in at 12% and sports scores at 10%. Watching video clips generated regular interest among only 5% of respondents. Clearly consumers love to talk on their phones, but they are coming to text messaging and other data applications slowly. Consumers sometimes tell us they are afraid to waste battery time on nontalking activities or are afraid they'll miss calls if they use their phones for other applications.

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