Daily Dose of iQ: New Study Looks at Pros, Cons of Cellphone Use

Dec 03, 2012 — Allan Pulga

Within the U.S. population, some 85% of people now have a cellphone. What type of impact have these devices had on peoples' lives?

A new study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project polled users on the best and worst things about owning a cellphone.

The word cloud above illustrates some of the cited benefits of using a cellphone:

  • 17% of cell owners say the best thing about their phone is that it is convenient.
  • 12% like the ability to call or talk with others at any time.
  • 11% like that their cell phone can help them get assistance in an emergency.
  • 9% say that using the internet, email, or apps is the best thing about their mobile phone.
  • 8% cite the ability to connect with family.

On the flip side, the word cloud below shows the predominant drawbacks of cellphone use:

  • 24% of cell owners say that the worst thing about cell ownership is that they are constantly available and can be reached at any time.
  • 15% say that the cost of cell ownership is the thing they like least.
  • 12% cite problems with bad reception, poor signal, or dropped calls.
  • 8% cite problems with battery life as the thing they like the least.
  • 8% point to interruptions from telemarketers and other unwanted callers as their primary annoyance.

Considering the best things (convenience, communication, the web and family) and the worst things (overly accessible to others, cost, bad connectivity, battery life, and spam) mentioned, this is definitely a layperson (i.e. not an early adopter) sample polled. The answers are so generic… but these are good for wireless retailers to know.

These generic pros and cons are useful to wireless retailers. They can help salespeople understand the reasons why people want a mobile phone and the fears they might have about owning one.

Both lists (pro and con) can help salespeople understand the motivations and concerns that people have when they're coming in to buy a mobile phone. The information on why some people haven't yet made the switch to a smartphone is particularly relevant: Other than cost, the second major reason people hesitate to buy a smartphone is the lack of a perceived need. Wireless retailers can play a big role in "selling" that need to customers.

The details around demographics surprised me. We all expect younger generations to have much more usage than older generations, but I was surprised how strong certain behaviors were with senior mobile phone users.

As an example, 22% of those 65+ sleep next to their phone so they don't miss phone calls, texts, and updates (compared to 61% of those 18-24). Says to me that there's a lot of interest in smartphone use amongst seniors, the challenge is just selling it to them in the right way.

The challenge: Convincing customers of the benefits of mobile phones, while mitigating the perceived drawbacks.

Take-home message: Mobile phones, particularly smartphones have a profound effect on people's lives. The challenge for all of us is to help customers get the most of the positive benefits of smartphone ownership, while mitigating the negative parts.

Topics: Privacy, Retail Operations, Mobile Industry, Business Intelligence

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