Friday, June 6, 2008

American consumers, leaders in mobile Internet!

Thursday the Merc had yet another article about Nokia trying to establish a toehold in the US market. Perhaps it has to do with their research center and CTO being down the road in Palo Alto.

This particular article was about trying to get Europeans, Asians and Americans to use more data services. The Finns were surprised to learn that Americans were the highest end users of the mobile Internet:

When Nokia compared keystroke usage by European users to a U.S. group, it got a surprise: Some Americans were using non-calling services and applications at a much heavier rate than the Europeans. That flew in the face of long-held assumptions about Europeans (and Asians) being ahead of Americans in using mobile phones for more than calling.

In the European research, Nokia put users in three categories, based on how many megabytes of data they were sending or receiving per month for activities such as e-mail, picture mail, Web browsing or downloading customized features (ringtones, for example). Usage was divided as 0-to-2 megabytes per month, 2-to-4 and more than 4.

In the United States, Nokia planned on using the same categories. But it had to redefine the one measuring the heaviest data traffic. That's because it found the top-end users typically going over 8 megabytes a month. There also were indications, based on applications that Americans downloaded in addition to the ones pre-installed on the phone, of a greater willingness to experiment and customize than Europeans showed.
I agree with the analyst quoted: this is not all that surprising.

The reason the mobile Internet will have a problem in the US is that we’re well conditioned over the past decade to do lots and lots and LOTS of stuff with our PCs on the Internet, and it will be hard for a little 2.5" screen and T-9 keyboard to replicate that. OTOH, once we have a good mobile Internet device — and a reasonably priced data plan — we will do all that stuff with our cellphone at Starbucks or in a library and not just on our laptop.

Seems to me that's the secret of the sudden success of the iPhone — a mobile device from a PC company that’s most closely replicated the desktop/laptop Internet experience. But the article on Nokia was too polite to make this link.

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