Consumers, including baby boomers, across the globe are using more portable devices than ever before according to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited’s (DTTL) third edition of the “Global Mobile Consumer Survey” (GMCS). In fact, by the end of 2013, more than 2 billion smartphones, 300 million tablets, and one billion portable PCs are expected to be in use globally.
The survey studied close to 40,000 consumers across twenty countries from both developed and developing economies – and for the first time including Singapore and Indonesia – to gain insights into how they are using mobile devices.
The survey also sheds light on several opportunities on the horizon for the telecom industry, including the rise of data, the importance of speed, untapped baby boomers, and the power of instant messaging (IM).
“The Global Mobile Consumer Survey not only illustrates the scale and complexity of the global mobile industry from the consumer perspective, but reveals several opportunities for the sector,” says Phil Asmundson, Global Telecommunications Leader, DTTL. “In an industry where divergence continues to be the dominant theme, consumer perspectives become requisite to honing offerings that appeal to them directly.”
More Devices, More Data, More Speed
The GMCS found that consumers in developed markets and urban professionals in developing markets, on average, have up to nine portable devices, a growing proportion of which are being connected to mobile networks.
Out of the 20 countries surveyed, Singapore ranked second with an average of 6.8 portable devices per consumer, which are increasingly being connected to mobile networks. In fact, Singapore has the highest smartphone and tablet penetration with 86% and 53% of the respondents owning or having access to these devices respectively.
“With the high number of connected devices per user in Singapore, this could result in a number of business opportunities for the telecom sector. For instance, solutions that unify the user experience across devices, or address mobile security are likely to represent a considerable opportunity for carriers,” comments Shariq Barmaky, Deloitte Singapore’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications Industry Leader.
Additionally, the study found that with a higher number of portable devices, the average data traffic per device is likely to increase. This proliferation of devices is a net positive for carriers as they have the opportunity to encourage consumers to migrate some of that traffic to mobile by offering larger data bundles.
There was also a significant desire among GMCS respondents to upgrade their data to LTE (4G). Close to 59 percent of respondents indicate a desire to upgrade to LTE in the next 12 months. In Singapore, 53 percent of the respondents indicated that they are to subscribe to LTE in the next year.
The Untapped Baby Boomers
The study highlights baby boomers as an untapped segment that carriers should market to more seriously.
With longer life expectancy, older consumers are likely to continue working and grow more interested in technology. Although, adoption has been historically faint, the survey found that older users are catching up to their younger counterparts. In fact, smartphones have penetrated 65 percent of the 55+ age category in Singapore.
Many mobile carriers have overlooked the importance of older demographics. Instead of approaching them with the same degree of creativity and dynamism that they apply to the youth market, education will be a key ingredient in unlocking their potential and motivating Baby Boomers to adopt smart phone and tablet technology.
Make Room for More Messaging
The industry encountered a tipping point in early 2013 when instant messaging (IM) platforms usage volumes overtook text messages for the first time. While SMS (Short Message Service) will continue to generate significant revenue, in excess of $130 billion in 2013, the rising popularity of IM services and other apps has likely contributed to mobile carriers’ success in selling mobile broadband. In Singapore, 60 percent ranked IM as the number one service they would like to have access to, in terms of consumers’ preference for data plans that allow unlimited access to services.
The GMCS findings highlight the importance of mobile carriers reassessing their analysis of and relationship with IM services and other messaging apps. At the same time, mobile carriers must continue to focus time and resources on text messaging. Text will remain an important service for many particularly for late adopters.