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July 10, 2008

ABI Research: Camera, Bluetooth, and Music 'Must Haves' on Mobile Phones

By Rajani Baburajan, TMCnet Contributing Editor

ABI Research (News - Alert), a market research firm specializing in the impact of emerging technologies on global consumer and business markets, recently published a research report on consumer preferences for various features on mobile phones. The study revealed that digital camera, Bluetooth connectivity, and music playback are the top three preferences of mobile phone customers.

The ABI Research brief, “Wireless Subscriber Profiles and Preferences,” gives a detailed analysis of a Web-based survey conducted during first quarter 2008 on 1,042 adult wireless subscribers in seven countries-United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. The study analyzed respondent’s mobile phone usage pattern, purchase behavior, opinion about handsets, satisfaction with the service provider and attitudes towards a variety of voice, data, and multimedia services. 
About 47 percent of the respondents chose 2+ megapixels camera phones as a “must have.” Thirty four percent responded for Bluetooth and 32 percent for music/FM radio as the essential for their next mobile phone.
The handset features that are least regarded as essential are WiFi, mobile TV, and games.
ABI noted that there is a significant difference in the behavior of mobile phone customers among different markets. For example, consumers in Taiwan preferred camera phones as the essential. They outnumbered their counterparts in U.S. by more than double. Similarly Bluetooth was the preference for customers in Western Europe and Taiwan, but it does not create much enthusiasm among customers in Japan and South Korea, probably because of its less penetration in these two countries.
 “It’s still a voice-centric world,” said Clint Wheelock, vice president and chief research officer, ABI Research, pointing at customer trends in the selection of service providers. “Consumers across all mature markets still choose their mobile operator based on ‘the basics:’ price, friends/family on the same network, and network coverage.”
The study also revealed that 64 percent of customers have games in their current mobile phones, whereas 61 percent of them have Internet access and 58 percent have 2+ megapixels cameras.
However, games and Internet top the list of features that customers never use. “Many mobile data and multimedia services are failing to reach the mainstream not because they’re unavailable, but because they fail to provide a satisfactory user experience and pricing model for most consumers,” said Wheelock, in a statement.
Rajani Baburajan is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Rajani’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

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