This week’s Data Point of the Week examines the main concerns consumers have when purchasing phones. These reasons are segmented by the specific type of phone purchased to glean some understanding on why phone owners purchased app-heavy smartphones, middle-ground messaging phones, or bare-bones basic phones. The range of factors for each of the three major phone types included in our New Media Measure survey present interesting and defining characteristics for each type.
Smartphone owners—who represent 38% of the cell phone owning population—prefer phones that maximize the internet capability of their phones. The ability to browse and access mobile internet is very important to smartphone owners. The other top reasons are most typically embodied in the Apple vs. Android battle: users generally strongly prefer one operating system, and the brand of phone is almost always correlated with the operating system. It seems to be a point of pride for smartphone owners to take up the flag in defense of their phone/operating system—unless they need to use the internet.
The messaging phone market is geared heavily toward high-volume text-messagers so it comes as no surprise that the keyboard is the most cited reason for purchase. As almost any text-messager can attest, a good keyboard is critically important. A bad keyboard can ruin a phone, and in the era of two-year phone contracts, can make for very frustrating experiences. We can also see that messaging phone owners rate the importance of their service provider highly. They can run up absurd text, voice, and data bills, so it makes sense that they would rate service providers that won’t penalize their overactive phone usage.
Many may laugh at those who own basic phones, the low-end stalwarts that may still carry a look of 2003-2004 vintage, but 42% of cell phone owners still own these basic phones. To these folks, a phone provides simple utility—phone calls (they apparently actually still use phones for this), a couple texts, and maybe the odd game of Snake while waiting for an oil change. Value and stability are the themes here. The promotion on the phone (often free for these types of phones) indicates owners prefer deals, while battery life suggests owners want reliability.
Each phone type presents a very different portrait of their user, but each also seem to have a typical representation as well. It will be interesting to see if ownership reasons shift as companies have already begun producing dumbed down smartphones to transition users away from cheaper phones. Will basic phone owners go for cheap phones? Or will they revel in the skeletal cell phone features and the accompanying feathery bill each month?