Look Who’s Talking, Texting, Buying

Youth. Anyone surprised? According to Telephia, Inc., new U.S. mobile phone subscribers in 2003 are 60 percent more likely to be young adults than the overall population of non-subscribers, and they will probably lead the SMS [define] charge.

In 2002 joint surveys with Harris Interactive, Telephia found that 35 percent of young adult users (18-24 year olds) burned more than 500 wireless phone minutes per month, compared to 20 percent of all users. Additionally, 62 percent of young adults reportedly made/received 5 or more calls per day, versus 37 percent of all users.

Messaging by the younger market exceeded that of the overall population of users – 35 percent of young adults were SMS users, compared to 20 percent of all users, with 38 percent of young adults sending/receiving messages at least once daily. Furthermore, half of 18-24 year olds showed interest in SMS, as opposed to 35 percent of all users.

These figures are up from 2001 when 32 percent of young adults considered themselves to be SMS users, versus 12 percent of the overall population. “We have seen a tangible shift in subscriber behavior over the last year, particularly among younger users, toward SMS and other text messaging services,” said Mick Mullagh, president and chief executive officer of Telephia.

Apparently, new mobile hardware is required to accommodate all that messaging, as the joint survey found that 41 percent of young adults are likely to upgrade their handsets, compared to 32 percent of all Internet users.

These findings are consistent with 2003 research from Wireless World Forum, indicating that global youth (5-24 year olds) will spend 13.5 percent of their disposable incomes on mobile products. The data, based on information collected from 20 of the leading markets worldwide, found that the youth segment will spend €13.4 billion on mobile data services in 2003, increasing to over €20 billion in 2006.

The report predicts that text messaging will account for 85 percent of all youth spending on value added services in 2006, followed by ringtones. Youth spending on ringtones will amount to €2.3 billion by 2006 with Japan, Korea, USA, Germany and the UK as the largest markets.

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