Customers Cautious over Latest Mobile Operator Services

Latest Martin Dawes Systems research reveals users sceptical about mobile social networking and free internet calls over mobile networks

Accessing social networks and making calls for free via voice over IP (VoIP) are two of the ways in which mobile operators are looking to engage consumers in 2008. However, new end-user research, conducted by market researchers SSI for Martin Dawes Systems, suggests mobile subscribers aren’t fully convinced about the relevance of these ideas to their personal or business lives.

Pressure on operators to innovate is being driven by the highly competitive and saturated developed markets. They are having to consider new strategies and services to protect and grow revenues. This latest study commissioned by Martin Dawes Systems explores end-user attitudes to some of these technical developments, polling 1000 UK business and personal mobile subscribers.

Social networking is attracting interest from operators but the research shows actual subscriber usage is less developed than previously thought. Over 70 percent of social network users said they wouldn’t join a social network launched by their mobile service provider. However, quarter of respondents said easier mobile access to social networks would increase their usage of such services, indicating social networking could drive take-up of mobile internet service and contribute to its growth for service providers.

The top activity when using a social network is reading friends’ sites followed by taking and uploading pictures and videos; activities facilitated by mobile devices. Women are more enthusiastic than men about using their mobiles to social network – for example, a third of women respondents say they would take and upload pictures while only 23% of men would.

The study also looked into mobile subscribers’ attitudes to mobile VoIP. Again the picture presented is more complex than expected. Almost half of all respondents (40.1%) do not know what VoIP is, and only 15.7% of all respondents actively use PC-based VoIP at present.

The subscribers most attracted to mobile VoIP are those who use their mobile phone for business. A quarter say they have considered mobile VoIP to reduce their phones bills and six percent of these respondents stated they were likely to try out mobile VoIP in the next month. Consumers seem much less likely to give mobile VoIP a go – only 14% said they have considered mobile VoIP.

The study suggests the reason for this caution is that end users are yet to be fully convinced about claims on free calls; almost a third (30%) of business users believe there are hidden costs. Quality of service also remains an issue; one in five believe that calls would be of poor quality compared to a standard mobile phone call.

Tony Wilson, Chief Operations Officer, Martin Dawes Systems said: “The industry is incredibly dynamic but it is essential that we listen to what customers actually want. There is awareness of new applications but our study suggests subscribers are cautious and sometimes sceptical about what they are being offered. Engaging with consumers and communicating the real benefits in a clear and concise manner will be the key making new services successful.”

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