In December 2010, nearly 47% of mobile subscribers in the US were mobile media users (browsed the mobile web, accessed applications, downloaded content or accessed the mobile Internet via SMS), up about 17% from the previous year, according to a new report from comScore. Data from “The 2010 Mobile Year in Review” indicates the growth in mobile media usage is largely attributable to the growth in smartphone adoption, 3G/4G device ownership and the increasing ubiquity of unlimited data plans, all of which facilitate the consumption of mobile media.
Mobile Market Enablers Grow Sharply
From December 2009 to December 2010, the percentage of mobile phone subscribers with unlimited data plans increased 36% from 21.3% to 29%, with more phones now requiring an unlimited data plan subscription at the time of purchase.
During the same period, smartphone ownership increased 61% from 16.8% to 27%; while 3G/4G phone ownership reached 51% in December 2010, growing roughly 25% from about 40% a year earlier.
Network Quality, Cost Top Mobile Concerns
In both the US and UK, new phone purchasers were primarily concerned about network quality and the cost of their monthly service and phone. The top consideration for device purchasers was network quality. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being most important, consumers in the US and UK scored the importance of network quality 7.9.
Network quality is also tied to the importance of network operator brand, which is also in the top five criteria for consumer purchase consideration (7 in the US and 6.7 in the UK).
The other main concern for purchasers was price with cost of monthly service, price of phone and cost of data plan all ranking in the top five purchase factors for consumers in both the US and UK. comScore analysis indicates the cost of data plan appearing among the top five demonstrates that new phone purchasers are clearly looking at their phones as a mobile media device and considering the price that comes with connecting.
Smartphone Users Rank OS 2nd
While smartphone purchasers’ top consideration, like the rest of the market, is network quality, the second most important consideration is phone operating system (OS). US smartphone purchasers rate this factor an 8 in importance on a 10 point scale, compared to 6.8 for the rest of the mobile market.
When comparing purchase factors between total market purchasers and smartphone-specific purchasers, comScore data shows there are factors that are clearly more important to smartphone purchasers. Smartphone owners show the most disparity with the total market in the importance of mobile operating system, selection of apps, multimedia and social networking features.
comScore says this disparity reflects that smartphone purchasers are increasingly sophisticated consumers who are looking not just for a phone, but for a device that is part of a larger ecosystem that provides a complete mobile media experience, including apps, music, and video.
Samsung Unseats Motorola
In the US, Samsung unseated last year’s OEM leader, Motorola, to rank as the top OEM provider with 24.8% of devices owned by mobile subscribers in December 2010, up 17% from 21.2% the previous year. LG had the second-largest share of the handset market with 20.9 % (declining 4.5% from 21.9% the previous year), followed by Motorola with 16.7 percent (down almost 29% from 23.4%) and RIM with 8.5% (up 21% from 7%).
Apple captured 6.8% of the OEM market, up 58% from a 4.3% share the previous year, as the introduction of the iPhone 4 bolstered its growth.
Millennial: Android Provides More than Half of Smartphone Impressions
Smartphones running the Android OS provided more than half (54%) of total smartphone impressions recorded on the Millennial Media network during January 2011, according to the latest Millennial Mobile MIX report. iOS came in a distant second with about half the impression rate of Android (28%).
The only other smartphone OS to account for a significant share of smartphone impressions during January 2011 was third place RIM (provider of the Blackberry platform) with 14%.