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Young users not planning to have 3G mobile phones soon
Posted on 26-Jan-2004 23:25 | Filed under: News

Young users not planning to have 3G mobile phones soon
The ROAR Consortium provides continuous research into the lives of 15-24 year olds, investigating how they consume and perceive brands, their media consumption, and gives insight into key issues which affect their changing attitudes, eg. politics, money, education, sex and shopping.

In a recent survey (4Q 2003) ROAR found that 96% of all 15-24 year olds now own a mobile phone in UK. It is so central to the lives of young people that technology companies wishing to market new devices with added functionality must ensure that new “improved” models still operate smoothly as a phone. Whilst SMS text messaging has been a huge success with this particular age group there is huge frustration with technological updates that do not give optimum performance such as 3G, MMS and WAP technology.

Young people have grown up with high functioning phones. They are simply not prepared to replace them until something equally functional is available.

22 year old Greg explains; “My Nokia has a stand by time of about 2 weeks. This (3G phone) barely lasts two minutes.”

Is it perhaps for this reason that 3G as a service and 3 as a brand has not completely captured the imagination of the youth market?

One 19 year old explains: “There is some quite interesting stuff on there – the goals, the video clips and calls – but there’s no way I’d get one until they sort the phone side of it out.”

Young people do not want to risk investing in technology which might not deliver.

Liz studying at Art College explains; “It’s pointless launching a phone that doesn’t work as a phone – you’d have to carry two handsets with you, have two contracts.”

Findings published by the ROAR consortium based on extensive qualitative research including placement and deprivation exercises, in-depth interviews and focus groups as well as interviews with 1063 nationally representative 15-24 year olds show young people would rather wait until new technology can be guaranteed to deliver on its promises before they will invest in them. Many are adopting a “wait and see” policy when it comes to 3G.

79% of 15-24 year olds neither own nor intend to own a 3G phone within the next 12 months. During a two week trial period of 3G handsets the ROAR consortium found that although most 15-24 year olds were initially impressed by some of the media content found on 3 they tended to be less enamoured by the end of the trial.

One male respondent said: “You did think wow premiership goals – and it was quite cool being able to get them first of all but even though it was free I wasn’t bothering to do it that much.”

When there are faster and easier means of accessing the content currently provided on a 3G handset can 3 really compete against this climate of media saturation?

The research highlighted a way forward for 3G technology. While there are obvious issues with the basic functionality of the phone, there are also lessons to be learned from other areas of technology. Young people want to be able to share the media content they download and 3G doesn’t allow them to trade movie clips with each other, making the experience more solitary. Similarly, it gives young people no options for customisation: they can not make it their own.

Similarly, 3 could learn from the likes of Sony, Nokia and Apple companies which have earned the trust and respect of many 15-24 year olds creating products that are easy to use and fit well in their lives. These brands have been innovators and are known for producing products that operate effectively. Young people aspire to own these brands. Toby from Milton Keynes said; “I’d buy a Sony minidisk, cos they invented them, they know what they’re doing.”

3 however does not yet have this following as in the eyes of young consumers they have no track record. Youth today are less willing to pay for new technology until they have proof that it comes from a reputable brand that produce products that both work and look good.

A 22 year old male said; “I’m going to wait until people like Nokia and Orange are involved – then it might be worth putting the effort in.”

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