Internet trends: marketing research & predictions

Mobile web will be catching up with text messaging with more teens owning smartphones

November 17th, 2010 by

A recent comScore report (September 2010) found that 58.7 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones (up 15% from the preceding three month period). The large majority of mobile subscribers (67%) used text messaging on their mobile device. Subscribers who used downloaded applications comprised 33.1 percent of the mobile audience (2.5% increase). Accessing of social networking sites or blogs increased 1.8% representing 23.2 percent of mobile subscribers.

Text messaging behavior is currently driven by young mobile users. Once they will own smartphones – TrendsSpotting predicts a  fundamental change in the use of mobile phones: the text messaging phenomena will be replaced by mobile web activities.

We have collected evidences to support our argument:

1. Teens are yet to own smartphone devices:

According to eMarketer only 12% of all consumers under 24 own an iPhone and less than a third own any type of smartphone. Piper Jaffray’s 20th bi-annual teen survey also shows that less than 15% of high school students already own an iPhone with a third planning to buy one within the next 6 months.

2. Teens current text messaging behavior:

Nielsen’s Q2 2010 teen survey (ages 13-17) demonstrates that while text messaging behavior is still growing among all age groups, text messaging among teens, especially teen females is reaching new levels (female teens send and receive an average of 4,050 texts per month versus  an average of 2,539 texts per males).

3. Teens connected to smartphones already embrace mobile web capabilities:

A. According to Nielsen, teens mobile usage has increased substantially versus Q2 last year, from 14 MB to 62 MB. This increase is the largest jump among all age groups. Much of this boost is attributed to males consuming 75 MB of data, versus 17 MB in Q2 last year. Teen females use about 53 MB of data, compared to 11 MB a year ago. Teens are now downloading a wider range of applications: the use of apps (such as Facebook and Youtube) saw a 12 percent increase versus last year, from 26 to 38 percent.

B. Pew Internet’s April survey shows a consistent trend in the use of mobile phones web related activities among teens-

  • 31% exchange instant messages on their phones.
  • 27% go online for general purposes on their phones.
  • 23% of teens access social network sites on their phones
  • 21% use email on their phones
  • 11% purchase things via their phones.

With more teens owning smart phone devices and with decreasing mobile data cost we expect the text messaging trend to be replaced by similar communication behaviors evolving around the mobile web, specifically  instant messages, social networking and MMS (Multimedia Message Services) which we see as the upcoming communication feature, incorporating  images and videos into the messages.

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