By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Downloading smartphone applications and using mobile search engines are gaining in popularity, separate ABI Research surveys show.
In a December 2008 survey of 235 U.S. smartphone users who installed apps on their device, ABI found that 17 percent spent between $100 and more than $400 on content and programs. “This is the first year that mobile users have spent more on applications than for the device itself,” said senior analyst Jeff Orr. “We take for granted that this occurs for PC platforms, but it's never happened until now for mobile devices.”
Users who want to download apps have more choices if they own a BlackBerry or Palm device, the company noted. “Despite all the hoopla around Apple's iPhone having 25,000 applications available for download, the iPhone app catalog is second smallest of all smartphone devices,” Orr said. “Only the Android-powered G1 handset has fewer applications at this stage of the market's growth. We count more than 80,000 apps each available for Palm and RIM's BlackBerry devices.”
As for accessing information on the Internet, ABI found that in 2008, 70 percent of respondents who used their mobile phones to access the Internet sought information through mobile search engines. That's up 14 percentage points over 2007. “The consumption of mobile data services, including search, has steadily increased year over year as indicated by the use of email and Web from a mobile phone,” ABI added.
Some types of content accessed via mobile phones rose in popularity in 2008. They include news, game downloads, music downloads, and video downloads. A significantly lower percentage of respondents reported downloading a ringtone compared to the previous year. Interest in location information, social networking and sports remained about the same, ABI said.
In the social-networking sphere, ABI found that more than 60 percent of people who access a social network from a cellphone do it mainly to check for messages or comments from friends. Less than 30 percent upload photos to a social network “Over time, however, a growing number of consumers will share photos and use social-network messaging and email, which will translate to longer and more frequent usage of social networks on mobile,” Orr said.
Today more than half of those who use a social network on a PC do so on a daily basis, but only about 17 percent of people accessing a social network via cellphone do so daily, ABI also found. The disparity, however, will shrink over time as consumers become more accustomed to using a mobile phone as one of the primary means of keeping in touch with their networks of friends and associates, ABI contended.
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