University of Southern California

Mobile Momentum and Service Growth Patterns US Smartphone Report 2013

by Dr. Elizabeth Fife, Xinru Ma

Overview: Building Mobile Markets

Smartphone usage continues to be a growth phenomenon – a trend that will continue in the short term. Moving forward, the fundamental question is how to build new markets on this platform. Uncovering use patterns is a key to developing new businesses with a close fit to user’s profiles and motivations. At the moment, despite growing mobile use and ubiquity, the vast majority of smartphone respondents in fact, report that they under use their data plans.

This discrepancy is explored in this report which shows what data services are most used and by whom.

A motivation for this study is discovery of growth in usage—in some cases non-linear. We find usage behavior linked to perceived value of mobile devices and services. Thus, understanding user value is the key to market drivers: strategic models, revenue models and technology/service platforms.

Mobile life – the context and motivations that drive mobile activities are linked to usage in this year’s analysis. Simply put, accomplishing activities motivates mobile usage – whether accessing a social networking site or a video, people are driven by a feeling of mobile utility. The GMS data shows that usefulness to a mobile user is defined by individualism, control and aesthetics. The concept of mobile utility is made possible by the smartphone’s core features: always-on and always with the user (e.g. low battery life which breaks the “always available” characteristic of the mobile phone is the most significant handset issue for the majority of users). Given the importance of utility, fuller understanding of how this quality is appreciated, based on how smartphones are really used is the best guide to support provider strategy and technology choices.

Trends: 2012-2013

The GMS survey results confirm that younger people use smartphones more intensely over a range of activities compared to other groups of users. Thus, the 18-34 year old demographic is a critical group to understand and to cultivate. This group is the most enthused, however when the categories of services shown below are broken down, we see they are the most frequent users of social networking and entertainment-related services—the spread in usage is the widest as seen in Fig. 1. When it comes to information services and activity that can be considered more work-related – the 35-44 year old demographic group has significant frequency of use. Finally, note that the highest use of m-commerce and location-based services occurs among the 25-34 year old group, rather than the 18-24 yr. olds who have the highest usage for all other service categories.

Mobile Momentum and Service Growth Patterns US Smartphone Report 2013

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Figure 1:
Breakdown of mobile data service usage by age:
younger users consume more
services
Figure 1: Breakdown of mobile data service usage by age: younger users consume more services

GMS Survey Q20: How often do you use the wireless data services listed below?
(% agreeing very often/always)