Apr. 15, 2009 Hannu Verkasalo, who has the public examination of his doctoral dissertation at Helsinki University of Technology on April 17th, says that "the usage of new smartphone applications, including the mobile Internet, games, multimedia and map applications, has been increasing among smartphone users and reaches already 40% of total face time". However, most of the usage is still based on voice and text messaging.
As many as 90% of smartphone users want to have computer like functionalities in their devices, and in practice already close to 40% of aggregate face time is based on Internet browsing, multimedia features and other new applications instead of talking on the phone, writing or reading text messages, or using the phonebook. Potential usage of new applications could be even higher, however.
The results published in the dissertation, based on multi-year studies conducted in Finland, indicate that only 31% of smartphone users, who would like to use mobile email with their smartphones, use email in practice. For multimedia messaging (MMS), this ratio is 70%, and for mobile Internet browsing, it is 72%. Still, the figures indicate that there are significant gaps between intentions and actual use.
Based on the research, Internet browsing, multimedia messaging, and multimedia applications face the highest demand out of new smartphone features. In contrast, wireless file sharing applications, instant messaging and mobile Internet calls are not that attractive, when asked from consumers.
The dissertation, named "Handset-Based Analysis of Mobile Service Usage", is published at Helsinki University of Technology, and is the first academic publication that is based on large consumer studies in which the usage of mobile services is studied with device-based metrics. The dataset used by Verkasalo is based on several surveys and in-device usage measurements of 1 260 Finnish subscribers in annual studies of 2-3 months each.
Top 25% of users generate most of the usage
Based on the measurements, the usage of mobile services is very concentrated. The top 25% of users generate 51% of all voice usage but as much as 87% of Internet browsing, 100% of email and 69% of camera usage. The most typical motive to use the new features of smartphones is still to "kill time", instead of using applications in utilitarian use. Despite the rapid diffusion of the mobile Internet, multimedia application usage has been increasing even faster. The research concludes also humoristic facts, for example clear peaks in camera usage are observed in weekend nights, and on average people leave the office on Fridays earlier than on other days.
In-device sensors facilitate next generation mobile services
In the future, smartphone sensors can be used in building adaptive user interfaces, advertising solutions based on context and behavior, interactive and real-time applications of social media, and services capable of predicting future movements and actions. According to Verkasalo, "due to the increasing processing power and more sophisticated sensor capabilities of today's smartphones, various kinds of next generation mobile and web applications can be built that are context sensitive, capable of learning and real-time by nature".
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