U.S. cell phone subs becoming more sophisticated about usage, features

Mon, 04/03/2006 - 7:40am
Brian Santo, CED

Cell phone usage appears to be becoming more integral to the lives of Americans. Just over one-half of all U.S. adults (52 percent) keep their cell phone turned on all the time, while 40 percent of those ages 18 to 29 are likely to drop their landline, according to a new AP-AOL-Pew Research Center Mobile Lifestyle Survey.

The findings are extremely encouraging for wireless broadband service providers, and for companies developing applications for wireless broadband. The survey indicates there are a number of sophisticated applications that cell phone users consider must-haves. The caveat is that many of the features identified in the study as "must-haves" are not actually had. That is to say, the identified features are a mix of applications that users either now have or would like to have.

The features study respondents would like to have include:
* Use mobile maps: 51 percent
* Send text messages: 48 percent
* Take pictures: 47 percent
* Play games: 34 percent
* Send mobile email: 32 percent
* Use mobile search: 31 percent 
* Browse the Internet: 30 percent
* Play music: 25 percent
* Record video: 23 percent
* Have desktop instant messages (IMs) sent to their phone: 21 percent
* Send mobile instant messages: 18 percent
* Watch video or TV shows: 16 percent.

Only 35 percent of those surveyed actually send text messages now; only 8 percent of cell phone users currently access their email from their cell phones; 6 percent  have actually recorded video clips with their cell phone.

Fully 74 percent of survey respondents say their cell phone has helped them in an emergency, while 41 percent say they regularly place calls when traveling or waiting for someone. Just over a fifth (22 percent) of survey respondents say they have not always been truthful about where they are when on their cell phone. Young people (ages 18 to 29) are the most likely group to stretch the truth on their whereabouts (39 percent).

Nearly one in ten (8 percent) of those surveyed say they are very likely to ditch their landline; 15 percent say they aren't quite ready to cut the cord, though they say they are somewhat likely to let go of their landline phone. Forty percent of those ages 18-29 say they are likely to drop their landline once and for all.

The survey was conducted by telephone March 8-28, 2006, among a sample of 1,503 adults ages 18 and older, including 1,286 cell phone users. Of the full sample, 752 adults were reached on a landline and 751 were reached on a cell phone. The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points.



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