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Mobile Content Usage is Higher in Developing Countries

  |  March 2, 2007   |  Comments

Third World country mobile users are more content and feature focused than their counterparts in developed countries.

Mobile users in third world countries express a stronger desire for content and advanced features, according to a "Global Mobile Mindset Audit" study released by the Forum to Advance the Mobile Experience (FAME), part of the CMO Council and Global Market Insight (GMI), and sponsored by Palm.

U.S. users lag most behind other countries in terms of accessing the Web, or wanting access, using cellular phones. In the U.S., 22.6 percent find the feature important or very important. Other countries exhibit higher demand: Western Europe (30.4 percent); Eastern Europe (53.9 percent); Asia (56.4 percent); and Latin America (63.5 percent).

"The difference between developing countries and the U.S. and Western Europe really is played out throughout the survey in terms of advanced services and how interested users are in accessing them," said Dave Murray, director of the CMO Council's FAME Group. "The new mobile power user is really in emerging markets. There is a population in these markets that is interested in using and willing to pay for advanced services."

In some cases, mobile services can compensate for a lack of infrastructure in phone and Internet services, as well as in other areas. One example Murray cites is a demand for mobile network banking access.

"In India there is a lack of an established consumer ATM network," said Murray. "The idea of a lack of infrastructure goes beyond communications, lack of infrastructure in banking, commerce, and entertainment, which is leaving users in developing countries to rely more heavily on mobile devices."

The study also finds a sense of "function fatigue," where consumers either do not use or understand all handset or service features. Criteria for useful and useless functions on a handset differ by customer. "The whole issue around function fatigue has a lot to do with how easy and intuitive a device might be," said Murray. "There are features they don't actually know how to use. I think that's exacerbated by the retail experience."

The retail experience is another pain point. Globally, consumers complain about a lack of in-store demonstrations, knowledgeable sales staff, and slow service. Point-of-purchase differences have emerged between the U.S. and elsewhere. U.S. consumers rely on in-store displays and literature, where international buyers use the knowledge of retail sales associates and editorial reviews. Outside the store, the Internet is the leading source for product and service information, surpassing print, TV, and word-of-mouth.

The data come from findings from a GMI study of 15,000 consumers in 37 countries. Surveys were conducted in the native languages of each country.

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Enid Burns

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