Moments of Need

Factors affecting mobile service uptake

Published/updated: June 2009

by Josie Sephton and Dale Vile

With high speed networks, sophisticated devices and a myriad of services and content available, mobile users would seem to have everything they need, but how much are they taking advantage of all this, and what can be done to ensure maximum value for the user and a good return for the mobile operator?


Uptake of mobile services beyond telephony and SMS is still pretty patchy
While mobile email for business use is becoming more popular, and advanced devices are increasingly being used to listen to music or play games, relatively few of the 362 respondents interviewed in a recent survey are yet taking advantage of information, navigation and social networking services. Indeed, around 60% say they rarely or never use such advanced services.

Yet scenarios frequently occur in which advanced services are seen as valuable
When presented with a range of scenarios, such as a shopping trip, a night out, a working day out, or an extended trip away from home, respondents not only acknowledge the relevance of these to their lifestyle, but also confirm the appeal of key mobile services when moments of need occur within them. Services enabling person-to-person communication, such as email and social media, are appealing across the board with a high willingness to pay associated with them. The strength of interest in other services often varies by context, and while some, such as mobile gaming, have strong appeal in certain situations, willingness to pay is not always there.

The most common moment of need is when you have time on your hands
Beyond the specific scenarios mentioned above, the most common context in which moments of need for mobile services occur is when people are killing time. This may be when travelling, waiting for transport, waiting to meet up with friends or colleagues, grabbing a coffee between meetings, etc. These are the times when people are most interested in information and entertainment services, as well as services that help them communicate with others. Such observations highlight the prevalence of ad hoc or opportunistic use, which in turn shines the spotlight on access mechanics such as device navigation and service discovery.

Device capability and habit forming are key to unlocking the potential
Compared to more casual users who may dip lightly into many services, those who form a deep habit around one particular service are much more likely to extend their use to other services in a more committed manner. Device capability, however, including ease of navigation as well as physical input and display characteristics, has a significant role to play in encouraging such use at a deeper level. Those with more capable and accessible devices take more advantage of advanced services today, and, looking ahead, have a higher affinity for new service adoption in the future.

Encouraging more advanced service use represents a good win/win for subscribers and operators. To achieve this, however, requires a more targeted customer-centric approach to service delivery, a shift in emphasis from individual services to service portfolios and customer level profitability, and a particular focus on device navigation and service discovery to drive habit forming behaviour.

The research upon which this report is based was designed, executed and interpreted on an independent basis by Freeform Dynamics. Feedback was gathered via in-depth telephone interviews of 362 business professionals in USA, UK, Spain and Germany. Input also came from an online survey of 1271 respondents, predominantly IT professionals, in UK, USA, Rest of Europe, Rest of World. The study was sponsored by Nuance.

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