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Accenture: Interest In Cellphones For Entertainment Is Picking Up

New York — While many consumers don’t want to use a cellphone as a source for on-the-go entertainment, the consumer adoption of mobile multimedia services is growing slowly but surely, according to an Accenture survey of consumers.

In the survey, the research and management-consulting company also found that:

  • Baby boomers (people ages 45 and up) are swiftly adopting such Gen-Y habits as playing videogames on the go and listening to music on an MP3 player, through boomers are still far behind Gen Y in actual usage.
  • Baby boomers are also adopting new non-mobile technologies at a faster pace then Gen Y, although they’re still way behind. The endeavors include blog reading, tapping into social-networking sites and watching Internet videos.

In cellular, Accenture found that 79 percent of all respondents surveyed in December view cellphones primarily as a way to communicate by voice, text messages and email. The survey also indicated that 54 percent of respondents don’t need or want video and video streamingon their phone. A total of 14 percent called the services too expensive, and 9 percent said video-capable handsets are too expensive.

When asked if the availability of mobile content would drive them to upgrade a mobile plan to add video services, 70 percent replied “to a very little extent.”

Despite consumers’ overall lack of interest in wireless multimedia services, Accenture found increased adoption rates by consumers in the latest survey, conducted in the winter of 2008-2009, compared to a year ago. For example,

  • the percentage of people watching video on a mobile phone rose from 12 percent, to 14 percent;
  • the percentage of people using cellphones to access Web-enabled services rose from 8 percent, to 23 percent;
  • about a third indicated Web browsing was one of their top three mobile applications; and
  • almost 25 percent indicated listening to music on their mobile phone was a top-three application for them.

For the latter two results, Accenture asked consumers to specify three top cellphone applications by usage.

Adoption of select services could go higher if carriers promoted awareness, made the features simpler to use and priced the services better, said Kumu Puri, senior executive of Accenture’s consumer technology group.

In another mobile-lifestyle finding, Accenture said baby boomers are adopting such Gen-Y habits as playing videogames on the go and listening to music on an MP3 player. The percentage of boomers playing video games on their cellphones grew to 13 percent from 9 percent, Accenture said, while the percentage of Gen Y consumers (ages 18 to 24) playing games on the go rose only 1 percentage point, to 45 percent.

On top of that, the number of baby boomers who listen to music on an MP3 player increased to 31 percent from 21 percent, while the percentage of Gen Y listening to MP3 players grew to 76 percent from 68 percent.

In non-mobile endeavors, baby boomers were also increasing their adoption of new technologies at a faster pace then Gen Y. For example:

  • the percentage of boomers reading blogs or listening to podcasts grew to 28 percent from 18 percent, while the percentage of Gen Y doing so remained flat at 45 percent;
  • the percentage of boomers watching and posting of videos on the Internet grew to 36 percent from 26 percent, while the percentage of Gen Y doing so dropped 2 percent; and
  • the percentage of boomers using social-networking sites grew to 28 percent from 18 percent, while the percentage of Gen Y doing so rose to 82 percent from 80 percent.

Accenture conjectured that younger boomers are adopting the technologies in part because they realize they will be in the labor force longer than they thought, thanks to dwindling retirement funds. Boomers of all ages might be adopting some new technologies so they can communicate with children and grandchildren who’ve adopted such technologies, Accenture added.

Accenture contends the result show that “generation Y’s cravings for consumer technology applications are leveling off.” In other examples, the company noted that Gen Y participation in virtual worlds such as Second Life dropped from 23 percent, to 19 percent; blog authorship or contributing to wiki declined slightly from 35 percent, to 33 percent; participation in communities of interest declined from 48 percent, to 47 percent; and watching videos on a cellphone fell from 29 percent, to 26 percent.

The interactive Gen Y generation is also watching less one-way cable TV. Viewership of regular cable fell from 66 percent, to 62 percent; and high-def cable viewing fell from 29 percent, to 27 percent. On the other hand, Gen Y boosted its usage of pay-per-view and video-on-demand to 21 percent from 16 percent and its use of mobile data services to 26 percent from 14 percent.

As for interest in connected home technologies, Accenture claimed the connected home “is no where close to being a must-have,” although year-over-year trends show “a slow but positive increase in acceptance of networked consumer electronics devices.”

When asked about the importance they place on connecting consumer electronics products to the Internet, more consumers indicated the function was more unimportant than important for multiple CE products, including game consoles, TVs, mobile handsets and MP3 players.

For game consoles, 51 percent called Internet connectivity unimportant, but 24 percent called it important. That finding, however, reflects the fact that most households still lack a game console, Puri said, but “gamers understand.’’

For TVs, 44 percent called it unimportant, but 29 percent found it important. The breakdown for mobile handsets was 42 percent unimportant vs. 32 percent important, and the MP3 player breakdown was 42 percent vs. 32 percent.

The percentage of consumers finding Internet connectivity important, however, grew a few notches. Consumers who consider TV-internet connectivity important rose from 25 percent, to 29 percent. For game consoles, the percentage grew from 21 percent, to 24 percent, and for mobile handsets, it grew from 27 percent, to 32 percent. For MP3 players, the percentage grew from 26 percent, to 32 percent.