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Text Messaging Remains Most Important Feature for Cell Phone Buyers

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According to a survey of cell phone users commissioned by AccessSystems Americas, and conducted by research firm Amplitude Research, buyers of new cell phones view accessing the Internet (61%) and email capabilities (63%) as most important features along with such items as text messaging (73%) and a camera (67%). Among the list of 19 items respondents selected from, music (34%) and video capability (33%) were also frequent choices, with only a small percentage selecting such features as battery life (0.5%) or voice activation (0.33%).

Fifteen years have passed since Neil Papworth in England sent the world's first text message to a cell phone with the simple phrase of "Merry Christmas" to the person receiving the greeting on his cell phone, Richard Jarvis. "We've come a long way since that first text message was sent to a cell phone from a computer keyboard -- because at that time cell phones were not yet designed to type out and send individual letters of the alphabet," said Kiyo Oishi, COO, AccessSystems Americas. "It's truly a milestone that in 2008, 73% of new cell phone buyers cite 'text messaging' as the 'most important' feature on their device."

Look Ma, No Hands

According to the survey, just over 62% of survey respondents said they would use a "Bluetooth" device to comply with laws restricting the use of cell phones or mobile devices when driving; slightly more than 51% said they would employ a hands-free microphone on an existing mobile device; 18.5% said they would stop using the phone in the vehicle. Just over 12% said they would use voice recognition software, and just over 7% said they would "ignore the law and hope not to get caught."

Adding Cell Phone Applications

39% of the survey respondents have added new applications (e.g., games; graphics programs; online photo management, Internet phone applications/VOIP; stock trackers; sports teams/games trackers; business applications; productivity; utilities) to their cell phone, with just over 21% adding six or more new applications. When cell phone users were asked to identify (from a list of nine items) the two cell phone applications that are not necessary to have, stock trackers (42%) and sports teams/games trackers (36.6%) were selected most often. Business applications (10.3%), productivity (7.5%), and utilities (4.8%) were selected the least i.e., are more often perceived as necessary items.

Not All Talk: Email Has Significant Usage

41% of the survey respondents who use a cell phone with emailing capabilities said they send or check for emails one to five times a day. Almost 16% said they send or check for emails between six and ten times a day; 14% said the use their cell phone for emailing more than ten times a day, while 28% said they never use their cell phone for emailing.

Of the survey respondents who have a cell phone with emailing capabilities but who do not currently use those capabilities, nearly 12% said they believe they will start using their cell phone to send or check for emails within the next year, while almost 46% answered they might.

Nearly 40% of the survey respondents said they use their cell phone for various kinds of "alerts," such as traffic, weather, stock market updates, sales-at-favorite-stores alerts and TV show updates.

Bank On It?

Nearly 30% of the survey respondents said they use their cell phone for banking transactions or to check their bank account balances. Of the 70% who said they don't, almost 56% said they had no interest in doing so in the future, while almost 38% said they were "somewhat interested" in using their cell phone for banking transactions or to check their bank account balances, and just over 6% said they were "very interested."

Only 16% of the survey respondents said they use their cell phone to make credit card or mortgage payments, and of the nearly 84% who said they don't, almost 67% said they had no interest in doing so in the future, with almost 29% saying they were "somewhat interested," and just over 4% expressing they are "very interested" in using their cell phone to make credit card or mortgage payments.

88% of the survey respondents said they found it "very important" to have a cell phone to use in case of an emergency, while 4.83% said that the only reason they have a cell phone is in case of emergency.

Cell Phone Hack Attacks Do Happen

When asked if their cell phone had ever been hacked, just over 79% said "no," almost 5% answered "yes," just over 9% said they "didn't know," and almost 7% answered "I'm not aware that hacking of my device is a significant threat."

The Carrier Matters to Most

When buying a new cell phone, collectively almost 74% of the survey respondents said they either strongly consider the telecommunications service provider (55.6%) or that the carrier is the most important consideration (18.3%). 23% said they somewhat consider who is the carrier, with only 3% noting they do not consider at all the carrier.

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Tags: text messaging  bluetooth  voip  driving  hands-free  battery  text message  email  cell phone