Josie Sephton, originally published on Computing

With mobile service providers offering more and more, in their bid to keep subscribers hooked and move them up the value chain, mobile users really do seem to have it all – high speed networks, sophisticated devices and a myriad of services and content. All of which suggests a win-win scenario if ever there was one. Reality, however, paints a somewhat different picture. Despite this wealth of mobile richness, uptake of mobile services beyond standard telephony and SMS is still pretty patchy.

True, mobile email for business use is gaining a lot of ground, and advanced devices are taking hold in the market, no small thanks to the advent of the iPhone, and the numerous ‘me too’ devices it has generated. However, beyond voice communications and SMS, a lot of mobile use resides around listening to music or playing games, and has yet to move on to more advanced services such as information search, navigation and social networking.

In spite of this limited use of more advanced services, recent research from Freeform Dynamics has highlighted several scenarios or ‘moments of need’ – working away from home or an evening out, to name but two – that users often experience and where such services are seen as valuable. The degree to which a particular service will be of interest will depend upon the context. For example, someone out for the evening may want to look up information about restaurants, show availability, etc.

Unsurprisingly, the most common ‘moment of need’ is when people have time on their hands. This may be when travelling, waiting for transport, waiting to meet friends for coffee etc. It is at such times that interest in information and entertainment services, as well as services that enable interaction with others, is at its highest.

What this points to is the prevalence of ad hoc or opportunistic use.
If the mobile service provider is able to take this casual use, where users dip lightly into a broad range of services and turn it into deeper, more consistent usage around one or two specific services, the benefits could be significant. Freeform Dynamics research shows that users 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.

This shift in user behaviour is driven by a number of factors, however, a significant one of which is device capability. This spans ease of navigation, as well as physical input and display characteristics. Those with more capable and accessible devices are more likely to use services at a deeper level. They also take more advantage of advanced services today, and, looking ahead, have a higher affinity for new service adoption in the future.

So what does this mean for the mobile service provider and the market in general? Simply put, encouraging more advanced service use leads to a win/win for both service providers and subscribers. Achieving this requires focus on a number of threads. At one level, a shift in emphasis from individual services to service portfolios and customer level profitability is needed, to create a more targeted, customer-centric approach.

Beyond this, however, the focus sits firmly on the device. Making sure subscribers have advanced devices that are easy to navigate, with a good user interface will make the transition up the value chain much easier.

For more in-depth analysis on this area, take a look at our recently published report, Moments of need: Factors affecting mobile service uptake.



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