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« Emerging World Mobile Use - Pew has excellent new and rare data | Main | Next Four Years in Mobile - Highlights from my brand new forecast »

April 02, 2015


John Phamlore


The Pew survey repeatedly stated that young people were using their smartphones, if it wasn't an immediate need such as finding directions, to avoid boredom and to avoid interacting with others.

If the theory is that companies give away for free what they wish to devalue, the conclusion is that what has been devalued by say Google has been exactly the general trivia knowledge you just extolled. It's value is now zero, the exact opposite of what you are saying.

The trend is actually towards more consolidation, more centralization, more importance in specific and detailed knowledge, especially to what is considered to have quality. If you learn some piece of software was contracted out to a third party it will in all likelihood be horribly written if not totally unusable, as countless government software projects have found to their sorrow.

As Japan and Korea found, and others have followed, the quickest way to technical excellence is not to disperse but to physically jam everyone together into one megacity, whether it be Tokyo or Seoul, or now the San Francisco Bay Area or New York City.

The Pew study is actually saying that what is valuable is low data intensive services such as online banking and brief data queries. It repeatedly says people in the United States are having problems running up against data plan limits and that the plans are relatively expensive compared to income. Now one might say regulation in the United States is primitive compared to much of the advanced world, but then that destroys whatever value the Pew study has in generalizing about smartphone usage doesn't it since it was taken in an outlier country?

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi John

First, I don't really understand why you picked on the 'young people' because those things you mentioned, directions, boredom, were also relevant to all users. And obviously the biggest use was SMS and the biggest reason why was to coordinate meetings.

Now. Purpose to devalue? I am pretty sure Google has no intention of devaluing information, quite on the contrary, they find enormous value out of the data they transmit and sell tons of ads and targeted search and increasingly will sell other services too out of that info. No, I don't buy that at all. While its upfront payment model may change - we don't have to buy a 36 volume Encyclopedia for $1,000 to occasionally find a 'valuable' tidbit of data, Google makes tons more than all encyclopedia companies COMBINED offering that same type of service now via the web, both mobile and PC. I don't agree at all.

As to quality... whether its quality of info, or of entertainemnt or of convenience, yes, there is clearly a market for ever more of that, and modern means, not just digital means, have increased the up-side of that. So the typical Arabian oil billionaire who books a rock star to come sing at the kid's wedding, that sort of thing. Same is true here in our world. That Forecast I just released today. Fifteen years ago it wasn't practical for me to do such a project and find a way to sell it. I would have had to get someone like Informa or Ovum or Gartner to 'hire me' to write it, and they would have sold it, mostly in old-fashioned way, paper-bound, shipped via Fedex to their clients and they'd pay me a cut of the sales or perhaps a one-off writing/research fee. Today I can sell direct to my customers and deliver faster and better info, and be paid more directly to me, while the price of the research is less. Win-win-win (but the middle-man is cut out )

Now to the problems the Pew study found, yes, I will come back to those in a follow-up blog. Has nothing to do with The Truth Is In The Pocket haha. But valid points yes, and makes me want to tear my eyes out, reading that. HALF of US mobile phone owners have experienced network signal drop-outs and one in ten REGULARLY. Their horrid networks are only getting worse. Gosh, were you here on the blog when I had that famous exchange with the President of the CTIA, Steve Largent? That was epic haha, but gosh, its gotten WORSE.. I am so so so ashamed on behaof of our industry for those findings in that Pew survey and I WILL return to those themes. I won't sit still and shut up about such glaring failures of the US telecoms industry to serve their customers (but what else is new).

As to 'outlier counrty' fair point but this is CONSUMER behavior research. That is pretty universal. Everybody needs a job, everybody wants to hail a taxi, everybody has a need for a doctor, etc. Those were very universal findings and the only thing I would say at this point, the Industrialized World will be AHEAD of those stats, so you can take the stats and bump them UP if you think of rich world, and the Emerging World will SOON find similar uses as their smartphone penetration rates approach the current US levels. Thus its a pretty nice 'mid-point' study of the globe one could say. A South Africa, Malaysia, Colombia would already today be very close to those consumer behavior stats today.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

abdul muis

Smartphone use rises in US – but many owners struggle with cost, says study

Research shows 64% of Americans own a smartphone but 23% run into money problems and 15% run out of mobile data
.... [more at the link bellow]



Too true; i've done it and i don't even have a mobile phone.

At least, it's a "view" of the truth. Google gives different results for me depending on which machine I'm using and whether i'm logged in to one of their other services or not. It's frustrating and annoying - and disturbing.

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