Smartphone Proliferation Drives Surge in Non-Voice Usage

CHANTILLY, Va.—A consumer study of adult U.S. mobile phone users conducted by media consultation firm BIA/Kelsey with research partner ConStat reveals a rapid rise in mobile device usage for non-voice communications—text messages, email and internet access—driven primarily by the proliferation of smartphones.

Among mobile consumers surveyed in October for Mobile Market View, an ongoing tracking study of mobile user behavior, 18.5 percent searched the internet for products or services in their local area, up from 15.6 percent in 2008, and 16.7 percent connected with a social network such as MySpace or Facebook, up from 9.6 percent in 2008.

"This third wave of our Mobile Market View study confirms several key trends taking shape in the rapidly evolving mobile advertising space," said Steve Marshall, director of research and consulting, BIA/Kelsey. "Not the least among these trends is that mobile is quickly developing into a viable platform for local commercial activity."

The third wave of the study was conducted in October 2009 via an online 40-question survey of 504 U.S. mobile phone users aged 18 and older (Wave I was conducted in September 2007; Wave II in October 2008).

The latest study also revealed a growing class of "heavy users" of non-voice modalities. For example, the percentage of users making more than 10 mobile internet accesses per week continues to increase significantly, now representing over one-fifth of all mobile users. Among mobile users:

* 48.2 percent sent or received more than 10 text (SMS) messages per week.

* 21 percent had more than 10 internet accesses per week.

* 20 percent sent or received more than 10 emails per week.

The study also indicated that use of mobile devices for commercial searches increased across the board in 2009. Of particular interest, searches for local products or services now exceed out-of-market searches by a wide margin. Among consumers using mobile devices:

* 18.5 percent searched the internet for local products or services.

* 15.9 percent obtained information about movies or other entertainment.

* 13.3 percent obtained information about restaurants or bars.

* 11.1 percent searched the internet for products or services outside their local area.

* 4 percent purchased a physical item that needed to be shipped (e.g., a book).

* 3 percent used a coupon from their mobile phone.

Usage of mobile devices for viewing or sending video also has increased appreciably, with the highest level of traffic in user-generated videos. Among those surveyed for Mobile Market View, 7.9 percent watched or purchased a TV program or segment, 11.7 percent watched or purchased a music video or internet video, and 17.7 percent sent or received videos.

More information can be found at the company’s website.