Smartphones Drive Surge in Non-Voice Communications

November 17, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Local & Directories / Small Biz | Mobile Phone | Telecom

The proliferation of smartphones in the US is driving a rapid rise in mobile-device usage for non-voice communications, including text messages, e-mail and mobile internet access, according to the lastest research from BIA/Kelsey, which said that this increase is likely to have a significant effect on future local mobile marketing plans.

The latest wave of Mobile Market View, a consumer study of adult US mobile phone users conducted in partnership with ConStat,? also found that 18.5% of mobile users searched the internet for products or services in their local area, up from 15.6% in 2008. Moreover, 16.7% connected with a social network such as MySpace or Facebook, up from 9.6% in 2008.


Heavy Non-Voice Users

The study revealed a growing class of? “heavy users” of non-voice communications. For example, the percentage of users making more than 10 mobile internet accesses per week continues to increase significantly, and now represents more than one-fifth of all mobile users.

Additional findings about mobile users:

  • 48.2% sent or received more than 10 text (SMS) messages per week.
  • 21% had more than 10 internet accesses per week.


  • 20%? sent or received more than 10 emails per week.

Mobile Local Advertising and Commerce

The? research also revealed an increase in across-the-board use of of mobile devices for commercial searches in 2009. In particular, searches for local products or services now exceed out-of-market searches by a wide margin.

Findings specific to local mobile search:

  • 18.5% of mobile users searched the internet for local products or services.
  • 15.9% obtained information about movies or other entertainment.
  • 13.3% obtained information about restaurants or bars.
  • 11.1% searched the internet for products or services outside their local area.
  • 4% purchased a physical item that needed to be shipped (e.g., a book).
  • 3% used a coupon from their mobile phone.

In addition to consumer smartphone adoption, recent developments in the mobile marketplace – such as mobile-optimized websites, the rapid evolution and implementation of Google’s Android OS, and its planned acquisition of mobile ad network AdMob – will continue to drive mobile internet use and advertising growth, BIA/Kelsey said.

Mobile Video

The usage of mobile devices for viewing or sending video has increased appreciably, with the highest level of traffic in user-generated videos, according to the study.? Among those surveyed 7.9% watched or purchased a TV program or segment, 11.7% watched or purchased a music video or internet video and 17.7% sent or received videos.

“Between waves one and three of Mobile Market View, consumers have basically doubled their use of the mobile platform for non-voice communications,” said Rick Ducey, chief strategy officer, BIA/Kelsey. “This represents a fundamental and rapid shift in media use, which needs to be considered in determining the appropriate mix and spending levels among local platforms. Media companies that do not currently offer a differentiated mobile advertising option had better get there quickly.”

A recent report from eMarketer confirms the potential for mobile advertising and marketing. The firm expects overall mobile advertising to generate $416 million in US ad spending this year. And in a similarly optimistic projection, the Mobile Marketing Association expects mobile ad spending to grow 27% to $2.1 billion in 2010.

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