By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Most cellular subscribers don't yet own a camera phone, but the majority of subscribers who do own camera phones are using them to take pictures and send them wirelessly to others, an NPD Group consumer survey found.
Interest in using a phone to snap pictures has grown so much that 33.7 percent of consumers who say they are likely to buy a new phone in the next 12 months want to get a camera phone, NPD also found.
Other types of non-voice features are also becoming increasingly popular but don't threaten sales of dedicated digital cameras and MP3 portables, at least for now, NPD said. “The incredible distribution power of carriers is putting phones that can handle ringtones, photos and games in more consumers' hands,” said Ross Rubin, NPD's director of industry analysis. “As Internet content drove a wave of PC adoption, consumers are opting for handsets that can support the new media types offered by faster cellular networks.”
Nonetheless, he said, “digital camera and MP3 manufacturers have little to fear for now as user interface complexity and conflicting development priorities stand in the way of the cellphone becoming more than a jack-of-all-trades.”
In its online survey of 4,703 adult subscribers and nonsubscribers in September 2004, NPD found that:
only 9 percent of subscribers own handsets with an integrated still or video camera, but almost 55 percent of those consumers pay to send pictures from their cellphones. Almost a third of camera phone users take pictures at least once per week, and more than 3 percent do it every day.
phone owners download ringtones more than they click pictures. A total of 14 percent of phone owners download ringtones, whereas 5 percent send pictures and another 4 percent also receive pictures.
4 percent of phone owners download pictures or screensavers.
more than 95 percent of consumers with game-equipped cellphones use them to play games. More than 30 percent say they play games on their cellphone at least once per week, yet almost 14 percent claim they are at least somewhat dissatisfied with cellphone games.
more than a quarter of consumers' cellphones are capable of some form of Internet access and e-mail.
and more than 15 percent have instant messaging capabilities.
Intent to buy: Among all consumers considering a handset purchase in the next 12 months, the most important features they will be looking for are a built-in still camera (33.7 percent), short text messaging (32.1 percent) and email (31.6%).
Almost 28 percent of those consumers want Internet access or Web browsing capabilities, and 18 percent want a built-in PDA organizer.
When asked what features they would like in the ideal affordable handset, more respondents mentioned longer battery life than any other feature. The next-most important features were caller ID and a changeable ringtone. In addition, more than 40 percent wanted a color screen and voice-activated dialing. Over a third wanted a built-in still camera, Internet access, Web browsing, short text messaging and a bigger screen.
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