As consumers’ smartphone preferences and habits continue to shift, Millennials are driving the increased usage of video calling as a preferred application among smartphone users, according to NPD Group’s Connected Intelligence Application and Convergence Report.
The report found more than half (52 percent) of smartphone users age 18-34 say they now use their smartphones to conduct video calls, representing an increase of 10 points year-over-year.
In addition to video calling, smartphone users in the 18-34 age range also cited using their device for music and shopping, as well as posting and viewing videos.
In fact, many of these behaviors increased in prevalence among this user segment during the prior year, too.
"Millennials are increasing their usage of smartphones; in particular video features such as watching, taking and posting videos," John Buffone, executive director and industry analyst for NPD Connected Intelligence, told eWEEK. "In that regard, it’s no surprise that video calling is also on the rise and the trend suggests this behavior will continue to grow. Older generations also make video calls. In fact, 29 percent of smartphone users ages 35-54 do so. However, over the past two years, there have been only marginal increases in video calling among smartphone users age 35 and older."
Buffone explained smartphone original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) typically prioritize camera specs when launching new flagship phones.
"As such, we should expect to continue to see advancements in video camera technology," he said. "When it comes to video calling, it’s a balance between offering a high-quality video and there being enough network bandwidth to seamlessly transmit the call."
He said a consistent user experience should trump the desire to push for higher-resolution video calls.
"That said, rear-facing cameras are moving past HD to UHD, and in time those technological advancements will drive up the specs for front-facing video cameras," Buffone noted.
Among Millennials, the study also found iPhone users are significantly more likely than Android phone users to leverage video calling (66 percent versus 43 percent).
"While there are a multitude of video calling apps available, one could surmise that Apple’s Facetime integration is, in part, facilitating the trend," Buffone said.
He predicted that as cellular and WiFi networks continue to improve so too will the quality and consistency of video calling.
"We should expect these technological advancements to drive more consumers to latch onto video calling," Buffone said. "More bandwidth will also provide the ability to conduct higher-resolution video calls, which in turn will attract more users."
Meanwhile, Millennials are using computers less often, and their behavior shifts are impacting more than just entertainment.
Fewer Millennials reported using their computer for Web browsing, email, shopping, Facebook, music, posting pictures or videos, navigation and Twitter.