Report: Smartphone Adoption Boosts Mobile Web Use, Local Search

  |  November 18, 2009   |  Comments

BIA/Kelsey finds multi-use devices shift balance of mobile search activity toward local products and services.

More than a fifth of mobile device users surveyed for a new study said they use the gadgets to access the Internet at least ten times a week, according to a report by BIA/Kelsey and ConStat. The third annual "Mobile Market View" report also found that mobile searches for local products and services now exceeds out-of-market searches "by a wide margin."

Mobile Market View was based on an October survey of 504 adult mobile phone users in the U.S. The research found a significant increase in the use of mobile devices for non-voice communications, such as text messages, e-mail and Internet access, a trend they attributed to the proliferation of smartphones.

Among mobile users surveyed, 18.5 percent said they used their devices to search the Internet for local products or services (up from 15.6 percent in 2008) while only about 11 percent said they searched the Internet for products or services outside their local area. Nearly 16 percent said they got information about movies or other entertainment by using their phones, and about 13 percent used them to get information about restaurants or bars.

Although BIA/Kelsey Director of Research and Consulting Steve Marshall said the study shows that "mobile is quickly developing into a viable platform for local community activity," it also shows that mobile commerce has a way to go. Only 4 percent of those surveyed said they actually bought something, using their phone, that needed to be delivered and only 3 percent said they participated in mobile coupon redemption.

The researchers predicted Google's involvement in the mobile space, including its launch of the Android mobile operating system and its deal to acquire AdMob, will have significant impact on mobile Internet use and mobile advertising.

"It means Google will emerge as this one-stop shop [for] different forms of advertising," said Michael Boland, BIA/Kelsey's mobile local media program director. "As it moves into all these different forms, Google is going to create an easier way for different advertisers of all sizes to start to advertise on mobile devices. It will greatly increase the number of advertisers we see adopting mobile advertising."

The survey also revealed 16.7 percent of the respondents used their mobile devices to access a social network such as MySpace or Facebook in 2009. The number who reported doing so last year was only 9.6 percent. The report also said 48.2 percent of those surveyed said they sent or received more than 10 text (SMS) messages per week and 20 percent sent or received more than 10 e-mails weekly.

And the use of mobile devices to view and send video has doubled since 2007. The heaviest video-related use of the phones was to access user-generated content. BIA/Kelsey said about eight percent of those surveyed said they watched or purchased a TV program or segment on their device, while almost 12 percent watched or purchased a music video or Internet video and nearly 18 percent sent or received videos.

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