Longer battery life beats high end mobile technology: TNS study

MUMBAI: While the development of mobile devices is characterised by the rapid development of advanced new features and technologies and the convergence of voice, data and video functionality into a single device, a new study by a the global market-information provider TNS reveals that what users of mobile phones, PDAs and laptops want most of all in the third quarter of 2005 is long battery life.



The TNS Global Tech Insight study was undertaken to uncover what will drive consumer demand for mobile devices in the future, as well as benchmarking use of and interest in technologies and applications such as 3G, mobile data, mobile TV and mobile gaming.

Across the 15 countries surveyed between July and August 2005, the study pointed out that two out of every three mobile-device users selected 'two-days of battery life during active use' as a highly important feature of a converged mobile device.

Reaffirming the fact that that insufficient battery life is still a real 'pain point' for consumers today, concern about using up battery power is one of the top reasons why consumers do not use games, music and TV applications on their mobiles more frequently.

Across all countries, almost half of the respondents say a 'high resolution camera and video camera' (48 per cent) and '20 gigabytes of memory' (47 per cent), are also highly important features to incorporate in an ideal converged device of the future.

In China, expansive storage in fact tops the list of desired mobile features ahead of battery life, with one in every two consumers in the PRC opting for '20 gigabytes of memory' as a highly important feature. Of the six Asia Pacific countries included in the survey, other top priorities include Internet telephony (Japan and China) and superior gaming graphics (China).

In India, interestingly the top three most desired features are two days of battery live during active usage (55 per cent), Internet telephone for cheaper VOIP calls (55 per cent) and surround sound speakers for high quality audio (43 per cent).

As well as looking at features, the results also provide a wealth of insights into which mobile features and applications are currently being used:



Findings from 2005 Global Tech Insight study -

Built-in camera

Some of the world's most frequent users of cameras built into mobile phones reside in Asia Pacific, with the proportion of mobile-phone owners using handset cameras at least once per week being 61 per cent in Korea, 42 per cent in Japan and 39 per cent in Hong Kong.

In India, 8 per cent of mobile phone users report using their phone's camera at least once a week. By contrast, only 21 per cent of mobile users in the United States use mobile-phone cameras at least once per week, which reflects the fact that handsets sold in America are much less likely to feature a built-in camera.

However, India stands out in the global PDA usage. Out of the total PDA users, only 16 per cent claim that they do not have a camera in comparison to other countries where majority does not have a camera feature in their PDAs. The spread amongst the PDA users is well defined in India. Twenty two per cent use it daily, while 22 per cent use it weekly but not daily and 23 per cent use the camera function less than once in a week.


Just as taking photographs with mobile phones is popular, so too is sending them by MMS, with 46 per cent of mobile users interviewed stating they send pictures and photos. Although mostly used the feature less than once a week, sending photos and pictures via MMS is highest in Japan (80 per cent), with Korea (66 per cent) also registering strong MMS penetration.

However, the study also reveals that opaque pricing plans are a significant barrier to increasing MMS usage. In Hong Kong and Korea, 23 per cent and 22 per cent of mobile users respectively cite a lack of knowing how much it would cost as a reason not to use MMS. Other barriers cited by mobile users are 'photo and video quality' (22 per cent globally) and interoperability problems (15 per cent globally). Within the Asia Pacific region, key barriers include the time taken to send (Korea), perceived complexity (Hong Kong), the need to register (China and Hong Kong) and lack of awareness of MMS functionality (China and New Zealand).

One of the top reasons for not using MMS in India was expensive charges as cited by 60 per cent of respondents. In the Indian metros, contrary to the popular assumption, majority of the respondents (69 per cent) do not even own a phone that supports sending or receiving of pictures / photos by MMS functions and merely five per cent use the MMS functions daily. While only seven per cent use the camera on their mobile phones for photography.

TNS Technology regional director Hanis Harun comments: "Following the launch of Apple's new Rokr iTunes-enabled phone and with a flood of other new converged mobile devices anticipated to be launched in the coming months prior to the Christmas rush, new innovation in mobile technology is once again a hotly contested issue among manufacturers, operators and high street retailers. The market is again preparing itself for a period of intense competition to create the new 'must-have' device and build market share."

Harun stated that the road to convergence was characterised by a rush to embed ever more sophisticated new technologies and functions into the mobile device. What is being often overlooked is that all of these advanced features require more power to operate, and that battery technology has not quite kept up with the rate of advancement in other areas.

Concludes Harun, "In fact, long battery life ranks higher than any specific technology or feature in terms of the consumer wish list. The industry would be well advised to take heed of this, and to ensure that practicality and usability is not unduly sacrificed amid the rush to build ever more complex converged devices."

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