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November 13, 2008

Report: Despite Higher Costs, Customers Happy with Wireless Phones

By Anuradha Shukla, TMCnet Contributing Editor

According to J.D. Power and Associates 2008 U.S. Wireless Mobile Phone Evaluation Study, customers are happy with wireless phones, despite higher costs for handsets and service.
The study measured customer satisfaction with wireless handsets by examining physical design (24 percent); operation (22 percent); features (20 percent); handset durability (19 percent); and battery function (15 percent). The average purchase price for a wireless handset has increased $107, up $15 from 2007 and this jump is partially due to the recent increase in popularity of higher priced smartphone devices.

Customers have also begun to spend an average of $80 per month (including federal and state taxes) on their wireless service. This surge in their spending behavior has been attributed to their increased inclination to purchase data plans, text messaging packages and downloads.
Kirk Parsons (News - Alert), senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates explained that feature-rich phones are now an integral part of customers’ lives as these devices help them communicate by sending instant messages and e-mails, access the Internet or to get directions via GPS.
As younger handset owners are more inclined to own feature-rich phones they have reported higher levels of satisfaction levels. Parsons indicates further increase in overall handset satisfaction levels as more customers continue to upgrade to mobile phones that allow for multiple methods of communication and access to endless information, as well as provide convenience and entertainment.
He advised manufacturers to ensure they include intuitive features in the phones and noted that wireless carriers must provide their customers with the support to properly use these features to maximize their experience.
The study also reveals that 49 percent of wireless users are likely to purchase a new phone in the coming year, while only 45 percent said the same six months ago. Thirty percent of customers would like to have GPS software on their next phone, while 25 percent prefer to have a touch screen.
The following are the most frequently reported reasons customers gave for selecting their current cell phone: pleasing design style (43 percent); received for free (25 percent); easy to use (25 percent); discounted/reduced price (23 percent); digital camera features (20 percent); and variety of features offered (19 percent).

Anuradha Shukla is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Anuradha’s article, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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