Battery Life Still a Concern for Mobile Phone Users


Two-thirds of mobile phone and PDA users rate ‘two-days of battery life during active use’ as the most important feature of an ideal converged device of the future, according to a new study by TNS. The study, conducted among 15 global countries during July and August 2005, was undertaken to uncover what would drive consumer demand for mobile devices in the future, as well as benchmarking brand performance and use of existing mobile phone, PDA and laptop applications.

One section of the study looked at consumer views on ‘converged devices’ a device which “will replace the multiple devices which people carry around now for all communication, information and entertainment needs” while being compact and incorporating a mobile phone and high speed Internet as standard.

Topping the wish list of key features in 14 of the 15 countries surveyed is ‘two days of battery life during active use’, indicating that insufficient battery life is still a real “pain point” for consumers today. Reaffirming this, concern with using up battery is one of the top reasons why consumers do not use games, music and TV applications on their mobile more frequently. Respondents in China were the exception, saying ’20 Gigabytes of memory’ is the key feature to have in the future.

Across all countries, almost half of respondents say a ‘high resolution camera and video camera’ (48%) and ’20 Gigabytes of memory’ (47%), would be important features to incorporate. In Brazil, a much higher emphasis was placed on video conferencing with 53% of people identifying this as a key feature, compared to an average of just 25% across all countries surveyed.

Following the launch of Apple’s new Rokr iTune phone, Sony’s Walkman W800 and the anticipated arrival of Nokia’s N91 new mobile prior to the Christmas rush, new innovation in mobile technology is once again a hotly contested issue among manufacturers, operators and high street retailers. The market is preparing itself for a period of intense competition to create the new ‘must-have’ device and build market share.

The results also provide a wealth of insights into how applications are currently being used. The report show that use of MMS is now fairly common, with 46% of mobile phone users interviewed saying they send pictures and photos via MMS, and 23% saying they send video or audio clips through MMS. Sending photos and pictures via MMS is used most amongst mobile phone users in Japan (80%), France (68%), Korea (66%) and UK (65%). ‘Expensive charges’ was the main reason cited for the lack of MMS take up (46% of mobile users), while 22% of mobile users said ‘photo and video quality’ was an issue, and 15% thought there were interoperability problems.

Camera use among mobile phones owners is also prevalent, with 59% of people who own camera phones using them at least once a week. Camera phones were used most frequently in France, Korea and the UK with almost a quarter using this function daily. Camera features on PDA’s are used relatively less frequently, with only 46% of PDA users with such a feature using it at least once a week.

The report also highlights differences across markets and shows that internet telephony is used much more widely amongst laptop users in developing compared with developed markets. In Brazil, India and Russia, 44%, 30 % and 22% of laptop users respectively use voice over internet protocol (VoIP), compared to just two per cent in Japan and the Netherlands. This is likely to be a reflection of, and reaction to, poorer infrastructure and less affordable telecommunication in developing markets.

Hanis Harun, Global Account Director, TNS Technology, comments “The study shows that there is an appetite among consumers for powerful new applications, particularly those around entertainment media and imaging. However, the research also indicates that consumers now fully realise that such applications require enhanced battery life and increased memory and they are demanding these improvements as a priority.

“As mobile operators and handset manufacturers develop more converged communication, information and entertainment devices with a host of innovative features and applications, they need to also ensure the fundamentals are in place. This means products with long battery life and large memories, and services which are cost effective and easy to use.”