Going Beyond the Phone Call
Consumers increasingly are using their mobile devices for more than just making phone calls, according to M:Metrics, an organization that measures consumer consumption of mobile content and applications. The hottest sector with the largest gain from the company's January report is mobile gaming, with a growing number of people using the tools for information gathering.
"U.S. Mobile Subscriber Consumption of Content and Applications M:Metrics Benchmark Report: February 2005," is based on data obtained from a sample size of 35,188 U.S. mobile subscribers for the quarter ending February 28, 2005. According to the report, mobile gaming is gaining the most traction, faring better in month-over-month change than the other surveyed categories, which include receiving text message alerts; using a mobile instant messaging service; sending photo messages to a phone or email; downloading ring tones, accessing news and information by using a browser, and sending or receiving text messages. The data contends that 6.232 million U.S. mobile subscribers, or 3.5 percent of the total U.S. mobile market, downloaded a mobile game in February--an 8.2 percent jump from January's report.
According to Mark Donovan, senior analyst and vice president of products at M:Metrics, consumers are capitalizing on improved handsets that are allowing them to enhance how they retrieve and use information. "[There are] quite a number of companies that range from startups to relatively mature companies that are in the gaming space, so there's a lot of content out there for consumers to download, and carriers have been promoting it very heavily on their Web sites," Donovan says. Additionally, "games fit well with the mobile lifestyle of wanting some diversion or distraction for a couple of minutes while you're waiting for the bus or you're in between meetings or something like that. It really sets itself up for bite-sized snacks of entertainment."
According to the report, receiving text message alerts is almost 3 full percentage points behind downloading games in month-over-month change at 5.7 percent. The category's projected monthly reach is 15.424 million--8.8 percent of the total U.S. mobile market. The use of mobile instant messaging reveals a similar story compared to receiving text message alerts--15.438 million U.S. mobile subscribers used mobile instant messenging, or 8.8 percent of the market, translating into a 5.2 percent increase from the previous report. Among the mobile users of instant messaging, 46 percent used AOL Instant Messenger in February, with 30 percent using Yahoo! Messenger, and 21 percent using MSN Messenger. Donovan attributes much of AOL's success to its Buddy List application. "As people are using advanced applications like instant messaging on their mobile phone they want to talk to the same people that they talk to on their computer, and they want to bring their Buddy List over to their mobile phone. What you're seeing there is a function of AOL's position in the Internet carrying over into the mobile market."
Seven percent, or 12.244 million U.S. mobile subscribers, sent a photo message to a phone or email, which represents 3.9 percent month-over-month growth. The projected monthly reach of U.S. mobile subscribers downloading a ring tone is 23.097 million, which represents a 13.1 percent slice of the market, and a 3 percent growth from the previous report; and the projected monthly reach of U.S. mobile subscribers accessing news and information by way of a browser, is 22.628 million--12.9 percent of the market--indicating a 2.5 percent increase from January's amount. The category of sending or receiving a text message had the largest projected monthly reach of 65.68 million, but the smallest month-over-month change of just 1 percent.
"You'll continue to see really strong growth in applications that connect people with each other," Donovan says. "We see a strong showing for personalization content. We've seen ring tone and wallpapers and shortly we'll be seeing more enthusiasm for ring back tones--a way to personalize what people who call you hear."
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