Increase in Smartphone Hotspot Adoption Despite Concerns
Sixty-two percent of smartphone users leverage their devices' hotspot capabilities, an increase of nine percent since May 2012, according to a new survey of more than 700 mobile consumers in the USA. Despite the increase in adoption, many consumers are still concerned with the cost, usability and lack of plan options available with smartphone hotspots, and carriers are missing key opportunities to monetize personal hotspots.
The survey found that 71 percent of respondents have used a dedicated hotspot device, a smartphone hotspot, or both to connect Wi-Fi devices to the mobile Internet, but also that almost half are not frequent users.
The majority of hotspot users are heavy data users, yet over two-thirds of light and moderate data users would tap personal hotspot services if their carrier offered a pay-as-you-go pricing model, presenting a revenue opportunity for carriers.
For nearly one-third of respondents who do not use any form of personal hotspot, privacy concerns (27 percent) and the desire to avoid another wireless contract (21 percent were major contributors to non-usage.
"Over 90 percent of tablets sold in the U.S. are Wi-Fi only, so leveraging a smartphone's hotspot feature to monetize these devices is a great opportunity for carriers," said Sunil Marolia, VP, Product Management, Smith Micro. "Our survey results highlight some concerns preventing broader adoption, and significant revenue leakage associated with hotspot service. By making mobile hotspots easier to use, with more flexible business models behind them, operators can better capitalize on the revenue potential of these devices."
Usability of Personal Hotspots
Usability and features were examined for Frequent and Occasional hotspot users. Both groups listed expense, battery life and limited plan options as their top concerns, but infrequent hotspot users also cited preferences in these areas:
- 54 percent want easier, one-step access to connect a device to a personal hotspot
- 49 percent want self-care diagnostics to help debug connectivity issues
- 43 percent prefer ad-sponsored hotspot service, even if usage limits were applied
Other results from the survey reveal hotspot concerns varied significantly between professional users (devices and hotspot service paid by employer) versus recreational users. For example, 59 percent of professional users are concerned with hotspot performance, whereas only 16 percent of recreational users cited performance as a concern. However, since two-thirds of professional users also use their hotspots for recreational purposes, the importance of enhanced management and control features to prevent security breaches and skyrocketing mobile data bills should be considered not only by hotspot users but by employers.
The survey was conducted by uSamp and commissioned by Smith Micro Software.