- making or receiving telephone calls
- sending text message
- receiving text messages (mostly from my spouse asking me to buy bread, milk, eggs, etc. on the way home)
- taking photos (when I forget my SLR)
- setting reminders for birthdays and anniversaries (including mine)
- playing the “legendary” snake game or Sudoku
I never thought of my smartphone usage as extraordinary or below par with other users. That is until I chanced upon the Deloitte telecommunication predictions for 2013. Deloitte predicts that although smartphones have been a phenomenal success and are likely to remain so in 2013, they are likely to be used in different ways by different users. Some of the key predictions related to telecommunications sector are:
- About one in every five smartphone owners may never or rarely (less than once a week) connect to the Internet through cellular or Wi-Fi in 2013.
- There are likely to be hundreds of millions of smartphone owners who are not on a data package.
- More than one in five smartphone owners or users did not use their device to connect to the Internet.
- Usage of nearly 400 million smartphones will be similar to that of a normal mobile phone.
- Global shipments of smartphones should exceed one billion units for the first time. The installed base of all smartphones is likely to be close to two billion devices by the end of 2013.
- Although the base of smartphone owners grows, the number of owners or users using only the basic functionality of a smartphone – voice, text and photos – is also likely to increase (thank goodness for that as it validates my own usage).
Some of the reasons cited for the validity of these predictions include the lack of interest or ability among some smartphone owners to use their device’s capabilities; the lack of understanding or affordability of data tariffs; the lack of the required cellular and /or Wi-Fi infrastructure and multiple ownership of smartphones by individuals.
Another interesting facet of this research is that there will be likely an increase in ownership of older smartphones and entry-level smartphones with basic capabilities. These users may try out different apps but if the experience is poor, they may never try it again. According to Deloitte’s research, 16 percent of smartphone owners have never downloaded a single app. In the developed markets surveyed, 21 percent of smartphone owners and 13 percent of urban professional smartphone owners in emerging markets have never downloaded an app. It may be that the only apps this category of owners will ever use are those that come pre-loaded onto the device.
However, what fascinated me the most in this report – and this is something I can identify with – is that fact that increasingly it is becoming harder to buy “normal” mobile phones. The choices are limited and users are at times forced to buy a smartphone even though they do not really need it. And some users – for examples if my pre-teen child insist on having a phone, I am likely to give him my old smartphone rather than buying a new one – may be grateful to receive the phone, but may not want to use the data services, often for reasons of affordability. I would definitely not buy a data plan for my son when I know his data usage habits, I am confident of getting a bill-shock (I would still be paying his bills) because of his high usage in terms of browsing YouTube videos.
So does that mean the service providers eat dirt? Not really. Deloitte recommends that operators should encourage users who are reluctant to use data services to try them out. More affordable data tariffs and packages will also make users embrace data services. Smartphone vendors could preload a range of apps, such as games that can be played offline; and for online apps and content, subsidized Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity costs could improve data usage.