Mobile phones in the United States are increasingly being used for non-voice-related purposes, according to a Nov.17 Mobile Market View study by BIA/Kelsey. The study - which took place this October and was prefaced by similar studies in the autumns of 2008 and 2007 - found text messaging, e-mailing and mobile Internet use to be significantly on the rise.
For example, connections over social networks, such as Facebook, were up to 16.7 percent, from 9.6 percent a year earlier. Users who sent or received more than 10 e-mails a week jumped from 10.6 percent in 2007 to 20 percent in 2009, and users who send or receive more than 10 text messages per week rose from 27.2 percent in 2007, to 38.1 percent in 2008 and 48.2 percent in 2009.
Video viewing has also grown, both of purchased videos or television segments, as well as user-generated videos.
"This third wave of our Mobile Market View study confirms several key trends taking shape in the rapidly evolving mobile advertising space," Steve Marshall, director or reach and consulting at BIA/Kelsey, said in a statement on the report. "Not the least among these trends is that mobile is quickly developing into a via platform for local commercial activity."
Not only are mobile users increasingly searching the Internet for products or services in their area - a percentage that rose from 15.6 in the fall of 2008 to 18.5 in 2009 - but local searches now exceed out-of-area searches. While 15.9 percent of consumers used their mobile devices to check information on movies and other entertainment, and 13.3 percent checked information on restaurants or bars, 11.1 searched for products or services beyond their local neighborhood.
Four percent used their devices to purchase items that needed to be shipped, and 3 percent made a purchase on the device using a coupon.
Additionally, BIA/Kelsey found developments in the mobile marketplace to be driving mobile Internet use and advertising growth. Such developments include growing smartphone adoption - 29 percent of those surveyed by the firm were smartphone users, and 37 percent of all mobile device users reported having a data plan, in addition to their monthly subscription fee. Other contributing factors, according to the study, include increasing numbers of mobile-optimized sites, Google's Android operating system, and Google's acquisition of AdMob.
"Google is clearly interested in replicating its online dominance by positioning itself at the mobile OS level, and around the content that users increasingly consume on smartphones," said Michael Boland, a program director with BIA/Kelsey. "Its brand affinity among users and one-stop-shop approach for advertisers will accelerate the shift of dollars spent on mobile advertising in the coming months."
The firm additionally found that 25 percent of those surveyed had canceled their landline and were exclusively using their mobiles. And, also to the topic of brand affinity, consumers reported that while they'd consider many brands before their next cell phone purchase, their top prospects were BlackBerry devices from Research In Motion and Apple's iPhone.