17 February 2007

Young, mobile, but not yet online [The Times]

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Young phone user
“A study of young phone users suggests that networks face an uphill battle in getting the MySpace generation to use the internet on their mobiles,” reports Jonathan Richards in the London Times.

“They are more competent and regular texters than their parents will ever be, and have started to use their phones for a whole range of functions — buying ringtones, downloading computer games, social networking — that older generations scarcely know exist, let alone want to try.

But young mobile phone customers are still relatively slow to embrace internet-based services, and networks will have to reduce the cost of such services significantly, and speed up their delivery, if this most impatient of generations is to be brought online while on the move.

That is the message from a large survey of young European phone users, and one that will resonate with operators who have been racing in recent months to announce “tie-ups” with internet brands such as Google and MySpace in an attempt to make “mobile internet” more relevant to web-savvy teenagers.

Of the more than 7,000 12 to 24-year-olds surveyed by Forrester Research, more than half of respondents said that they never browsed the internet [on their mobiles], and only 8 per cent said that they used it once a week or more. When it came to daily use, the figure dropped to 1 per cent. […]

A separate study by Q Research (pdf, 72 kb) suggested only 3 per cent of young people aged 11 to 25 had downloaded music directly to their mobile phone, with the high cost of doing so the main dissuading factor. […]

Graham Brown, the chief executive of Wireless World Forum, […] said that usability issues, such as the slow rate of downloads and screen size, also remained a problem, and that it had been only recently that users have not had to enter “https://” before the name of website, which meant that finding the average URL involved 40 key pushes. […]

Despite 61 per cent of young people surveyed saying that they had internet on their phone, only 34 per cent wanted it on their next phone — in comparison with 65 per cent who wanted an MP3 player and 44 per cent who wanted Bluetooth.”

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