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Study: Text Messaging Number One Feature For Cell Phone Shoppers

A new survey says that the majority of people, nearly three-quarters, seeking a new cell phone list SMS capabilities as the No. 1 must-have feature. The Internet and mobile e-mail aren't far behind. My favorite part of the study is that only 0.5% listed battery life -- without which cell phones are merely blocks of plastic and metal -- as the most important feature.
A new survey says that the majority of people, nearly three-quarters, seeking a new cell phone list SMS capabilities as the No. 1 must-have feature. The Internet and mobile e-mail aren't far behind. My favorite part of the study is that only 0.5% listed battery life -- without which cell phones are merely blocks of plastic and metal -- as the most important feature.The survey was conducted by Access Systems Americas in cooperation with Amplitude Research. They asked about 19 different features, and here are the most notable responses:

• 73% - Text messaging • 67% - Camera • 63% - E-mail • 61% - Internet • 34% - Music • 33% - Video playback • 0.5% - Battery life • 0.33% - Voice activation

Two-thirds of respondents said that a camera was important to them. I must admit, when camera phones were first introduced, I thought they were the dumbest idea ever. Now I am part of that two-thirds majority. Not only do I want a phone with a camera, but I want the camera to be a good one. The study didn't spell out any minimum quality requirements for camera phones, however.

The number of people interested in mobile e-mail and the mobile Internet is fully three-fifths. I think this is an important statistic. The appeal and usefulness of these features is beginning to reach the mass market.

I am not too surprised to see media capabilities, namely music and video playback, sought by only about one-third of people. Mobile video, especially, is still a nascent technology that has yet to find its real niche customers.

But these numbers aren't all that Access and Amplitude checked. They also asked some revealing questions about how people use their phones and for what. For example, 39% of respondents had downloaded a third-party application. In fact, more than one out of five respondents said they'd downloaded six or more applications, spanning games, graphics programs, online photo management, Internet phone applications/VoIP, stock trackers, sports teams/game trackers, business applications, productivity, utilities, and more.

Then comes mobile e-mail. More than 40% of the survey respondents who use a cell phone with e-mailing capabilities said they send or check for e-mails one to five times a day. Almost 16% check for e-mails between six and 10 times a day; 14% check more than 10 times a day (I fall into this group), while 28% said they never use their cell phone for e-mailing at all. Raise your hand if you have to use your phone for e-mail ...

Finally, 74% of respondents said the mobile network operator was the most important, or among the most important aspects of their buying decisions. In other words, cool phones don't matter as much as service that works when and where it is needed by the customer.

Editor's Choice
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing