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US wireless user survey: photo messaging and Push-to-Talk top user wish list
Posted on 30-Aug-2003 08:45 | Tags Filed under: News

Nearly 50 percent of about 1,300 survey respondents said they would seek an integrated digital camera in their next mobile phone. Of the consumers who subscribe to carriers other than Nextel, the only provider of push-to-talk at the time of the survey, 40 percent expressed an interest in using the service. Furthermore, of those that indicated they would seek push-to-talk in their next handset purchase, 45 percent ranked it as the feature that is of most interest.

"We find the breadth of support for the push-to-talk feature especially noteworthy," said Seamus McAteer, senior analyst, Zelos Group and the report's primary author. "This essentially debunks the commonly held assertion that everyone who wants push-to-talk is already a Nextel subscriber."

Despite this enthusiasm, push-to-talk's viability as a mass market consumer application hinges on the interoperability of services on different networks. Zelos Group said that although Verizon Wireless, Cingular and AT&T Wireless will all launch push-to-talk services in the next six months, full interoperability is at least 24 months away.

Bluetooth ranked last in the list of 10 features users would seek on their next mobile phone, with only 13 percent of respondents choosing it in their top five.

"Considerable marketing and educational efforts will be necessary to improve the prospects of Bluetooth," said McAteer. "Consumers are, on the whole, unaware of the technology. If Bluetooth is to enjoy wide appeal, carriers and handset manufacturers must clearly articulate one or two useful applications of the technology."

The survey also confirmed that, despite being stymied until last year due to a lack of inter-carrier interoperability, text messaging has become a mainstream activity in the U.S. More than one fourth of those surveyed claimed to have sent a text message, and 12 percent say they text at least once per week.

Although there is strong consumer interest in mobile gaming, only a small portion expressed a willingness to pay for game content.

"The promise of mobile games should not be oversold," cautioned McAteer. "While downloadable games feature prominently in carrier marketing initiatives, only four percent of respondents claimed to have paid for a download."

Zelos Group also explored the controversial issue of wireless number portability in the survey, and found that it will not yield a significant shift in consumer churn. While 17 percent indicated they would change carriers if they could retain their number, based on industry norms, it is probable that a high portion of those who said they would switch if they could hold onto their number, would likely switch, regardless of whether they could keep their number or not.

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