Smartest Mobile Users? It Ain't Us

Wireless phone study finds one common complaint worldwide: "Too many features I did not use."
Posted February 21, 2007

David Needle

Is the mobile device glass half empty or half full? According to an global study of mobile users, there are plenty of consumer complaints about the latest crop of wireless handheld devices.

But the Forum to Advance the Mobile Experience (FAME), which surveyed 14,000 consumers in 37 countries for its Global Mobile Mindset Audit, sees the problems more as opportunities.

"Device manufacturers and service providers have a real opportunity to differentiate themselves to make the user experience simplified and the buying experience more educational, and something that supports users," FAME Director Dave Murray told

Many frustrated users would likely welcome improvements. While some complaints were more specific to certain geographies, "function fatigue" was a universal complaint among respondents.

Users from around the world complained that mobile phones have "too many features I do not use." The report suggests the industry has placed too much emphasis on features and functions and less on utility.

In a related note, U.S. consumers in the survey listed attempts to up-sell them to more expensive devices and services as their No. 1 complaint about the purchase process.

"I think the big issue we find in point-of-sale really has more to do with the fact that consumers really want more hands on experience and explanation and help in understanding how to use these devices," said Murray.

"That's exacerbated by a lack of knowledgeable sales staff. This is going to be an even more important issue as we move to smartphones and multifunction devices."

The function fatigue complaint was highest in Asia with 28 percent of respondents listing it highest among post-purchase frustrations. Additional concerns repeated globally were, highest to lowest:

Cost of service, battery life, losing phone or contact info, theft or damage to the device, irritation with other people's loud cell phone conversations and reception drop-offs.

Since U.S. consumers have the legacy of landlines, they are not as dependent on mobile services as other regions. Users in developing countries led the rest of the world in every category of usage, from advanced applications to plans to buy multifunction devices.

For example, mobile users in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia were more than twice as likely to use mobile banking services than respondents in the U.S. and Western Europe; between 20 to 25 percent of respondents in those regions reported using their mobile device for banking, compared to only seven percent in the U.S. and 10 percent in Europe.

Over 60 percent of users in Eastern Europe and Asia and 73 percent in Latin America considered themselves to be very technology savvy mobile device users. The U.S.? Only 50 percent said yes, and only 58 percent in Western Europe.

The U.S. also lags much of the rest of the world in interest in advanced services. For example, only 12 percent of U.S. users surveyed expressed interest in mobile video services versus 28 percent in the rest of the world.

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