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Understanding the Changing Mobile User

The mobile market continues to evolve at a blindingly fast pace. It seems that new faster, sleeker, and more powerful mobile devices are launched every day, with new device categories created almost overnight. The number of available applications to run on these revolutionary new devices is staggering, numbering in the millions. Now you can do everything, from banking and controlling your home thermostat to shopping, entertainment, and printing a boarding pass, all from the palm of your hand. In addition, we now have faster ways to connect these devices to the Internet using 4G/LTE or Wi-Fi technologies.

While service providers are clearly benefiting from the rise of mobility and all the innovations in devices applications they are constantly trying to understand how consumers are using mobility and where the mobile market is heading. To continue to derive business value from mobility, service providers need to better understand mobility from the users’ perspective and translate what they discover into new sources of business value.

To learn more, Cisco conducted a survey of 620 U.S. mobile users to understand their needs and behaviors, use of devices, applications and mobile access technologies, and how they have changed since our 2012 mobile consumer survey.

The study revealed that Americans now own an average of three mobile devices each, up from 2.6 devices in the 2012 Cisco mobile consumer study. Our findings show that the number of smartphone users has grown by 21 percent in just one year to reach 68 percent of the population, at the expense of basic phones. Most remarkable is that the number of tablet owners has expanded by over 90 percent in just one year, with close to four out of ten consumers possessing one of these new devices.  Eighty percent of smartphone owners now use some Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet. In fact, the average smartphone user uses Wi-Fi 44 percent of the time to connect a device to the Internet – a remarkable increase from just one year ago, when one-third of the total smartphone data usage was through a Wi-Fi connection, rather than a mobile network.  Almost all consumers use their mobile devices at home, averaging more than 3.8 hours of usage in a typical day, almost double the time they spend using them at work.  Our research also indicates that LTE and Wi-Fi are not competitive, but that the two access technologies actually appear to be complementary and synergistic. A significant number of LTE smartphone users have actually increased both their total data usage and Wi-Fi usage, after they make the transition to LTE.   Thirty-six percent of LTE smartphone users reported that their total data usage across all devices increased, to some extent or significantly, after they moved to LTE.

The research findings are important, because they can help service providers better understand the rapid changes and emerging trends in the mobile market, identify new business opportunities, and develop robust strategies for winning in mobility.

The complete results can be found at “Understanding the Changing Mobile User.”

This white paper is part of a series presenting 2013 Cisco mobile consumer research findings.  Previous blogs and white papers have highlighted what mobile consumers want from public Wi-Fi.  Future blogs will present insights into opportunities to provide in new localized mobile services.

I look forward to learning more about the changing mobile user and the new world of mobile at the Wireless Broadband Alliance Global Congress in Beijing, November 18th or 21st.  Look out for my blog report from the conference.

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