Happy talking (and texting)

Mobile phone by Dominik Syka

It’s easy to over-estimate the ubiquity of the smartphone and its capabilities, not least in the UK where 81% of adults were last year estimated to have one.

But the global picture is one of much more variety and, according to a recent report, almost half of mobile phone users are happy to use their devices as, well, mobile telephones.

Mobile operators trade body the GSMA investigated how ‘engaged’ mobile users were, and found that 47% could be categorised as ‘talkers’, the least engaged group who only use their mobile to make telephone calls and send texts.

It expects that picture to change of course, forecasting that ‘talkers’ will fall to 29% by 2030 as advances in mobile innovation, affordability and availability prompt users to make wider use of the technology.

Its new annual Global Mobile Engagement Index also found:

  • ‘Millennials’ are not necessarily more engaged mobile users than older generations – in South Korea more than a quarter of smartphone users are ‘baby boomers’ (aged 51-69)
  • Several African countries have high mobile user engagement in financial services – in Kenya and Tanzania, around four in every five adult mobile phone owners use their phones for mobile money services
  • More than 70% of smartphone users globally watch free online videos from the likes of YouTube on their phone, and one in two smartphone users watch or replay live TV programmes on their device
  • More than 70% of smartphone consumers use their device to research information about products and services, but only one in two use it to order and purchase goods
  • There exists a gender gap in mobile internet usage in several markets. In India, for example, female mobile phone owners are 43% less likely to use mobile internet services than men.

The Index is based on the 2016 GSMA Intelligence consumer survey, which surveyed 56,000 mobile users drawn from across 56 global markets.

The research also calculated an engagement score for each of those markets covered, with the top ten most engaged countries looking like this:

 Rank   Country  Score
 1  South Korea  5.0
 2  Qatar  5.0
 3  USA  4.7
 4  Saudi Arabia  4.6
 5  Denmark  4.5
 6  Finland  4.5
 7  Australia  4.5
 8  Spain  4.4
 9  Sweden  4.4
 10  Romania  4.3

Suggesting the UK has further to go before it reaches ‘peak mobile’.

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