Mobile phones are more than just phones in China

Summary:Well actually the headline today was "Research Discovers That Phones Are Phones", but I think there's more to the story. The research in question was a survey of "999 nationally representative adults" in the UK and was carried out by NOP Omnibus in late August, on behalf of Stockholm based mobile messaging company Mobeon.

Well actually the headline today was "Research Discovers That Phones Are Phones", but I think there's more to the story. The research in question was a survey of "999 nationally representative adults" in the UK and was carried out by NOP Omnibus in late August, on behalf of Stockholm based mobile messaging company Mobeon. It found that:

"...on a daily basis, advanced services such as call diverts, picture galleries, calendars, MMS, email or web access are left untouched by all but 17% of mobile users."

In other words, 83% of respondents use their phone for just talking and texting on a daily basis. That last bit is key - on a daily basis. Personally I don't even use landline phones on a daily basis, let alone fiddle around with advanced functions of my mobile phone.

Another thing that is key here is where the survey was carried out: the UK. I suspect the results would've been similar in other Western countries such as the US, Italy, or New Zealand. But what if the survey had been carried out in China, or Korea, or Japan? 

Why do I ask that? Because recently MorganStanley analysts Mary Meeker and Richard Ji released a report that listed the top 10 trends in China. The number 3 trend was this:

"Unlike the Rest of the World, China Internet is Mobile-centric Rather Than PC-centric"

China is currently No. 1 in the world in mobile subscribers and No. 1 in Internet users under the age of 30, according to the report. Some more mobile stats from the report (PDF):

  • China has over 360MM mobile phone users, 3.6 times more than its Internet users.
  • The total number of China’s mobile users is equal to the total of the next three nations (US, Japan, and Germany) combined. In the US, it is the reverse: the total number of Internet users in the US is equal to the total of the next three nations combined. 
  • China’s people are heavier users of mobile data services, relative to other countries.
  • China, in many ways, is leading the development and monetization of mobile content (i.e. KongZhong, TOM Online) in ways that are still nascent in the US.

The MorganStanley report also states: "We view mobile value-added services as an overlooked opportunity." Content was singled out as being hot. One example of that is MTV's recent deal with the world's biggest wireless telecoms operator China Mobile, which according to China Daily "marked the first time MTV content has been distributed on the mobile phone platform".

All this suggests a lot of room for growth, for China at least, in presumably the same "advanced services" that only 17% of UK survey respondents use on a daily basis (according to the Mobeon survey). Phones may be just phones in the Western world, but they're much more than that in China.

Topics: China

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