Survey provides insight into UK mobile users' feature wish list

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SmartTrust recently did a survey of 411 UK mobile phone users to ask them a little about their attitudes to mobile devices and what they would want to see from future handsets. Though it’s quite a small sample size it does reveal some interesting information.

The top 3 most desired features of any mobile handset were design, camera, and battery life.

Respondents were asked which manufacturer they would prefer for a future converged mobile device. Here, Sony came out joint top with Nokia, each with 18%, followed by Sony Ericsson, Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, Palm, and RIM. However, Nokia was the maker of choice for over 35s whilst 16-24s favoured Microsoft. Microsoft got 11% and Apple 6% of the overall vote.

34% said their choice was based on brand trust. Other reasons included reliability of products, leading-edge technology, established brand, and product ease of use.

When they were asked to consider the company best able to provide a future converged device as part of a package also including software, applications, wireless connections and supporting customer services, the ordering changed a little, with Microsoft getting 20% of the vote, followed by Sony at 17% and Nokia at 13%. Sony Ericsson got 8%, Apple 7% and HP (not even present on the first list) 4%.

Asked about the features they’d most like to see on a mobile device, improved battery life was mentioned by 3 out of every 4 questioned. Other desired features were improved battery life (61%), storage of over 20GB (55%), Full Microsoft Office functionality built-in (46%), the ability to make Internet phone calls (VoIP) (36%), the device having biometric security features (35%), satellite navigation (31%), and an expandable LCD screen (31%).

When it comes to Net access, things currently look rather bleak. 54% said they thought the cost of Net access from their mobiles was too high. 22% said they had no idea how much Net access cost, but were still put off by a perception of high costs.

Other factors for avoiding the Net on their mobile phones were that downloads were too slow (32%), whilst 37% said there was no point going online as their phone or screen was too small.

Only 9% of people using the Net were charged a flat fee for unlimited access, and 47% said that they thought this was the best way to be billed.

Of those accessing the Net, the most popular activities were downloading ringtones (44%), logos/wallpaper (39%), games (29%), news (21%) and web-based email (15%)

When asked what they’d be interested in watching on streaming TV, there was a gender difference. Everyone said movies were the most important, but men then said news, sport, sitcoms, and music, whilst women said music, dramas, sitcom, and documentaries.

So it seems that there is interest in future converged devices and what entertainment and content they can provide, but a perception of high costs and slow connection speeds will need to be overcome by manufacturers if UK consumers are to embrace next-generation handsets and services.

Andy Merrett