2009 TNS Global Telecoms Study

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

Mobile promotions and campaigns may be popular with advertisers trying to reach specific targets, especially the young adult generation, but they should be aware that the ownership rates of mobile phones and smart phones can vary greatly in each country.

A new global telecommunications study by international market research firm TNS, for example, showed that when it comes to owning and using mobile phones, Canadians continue to lag behind citizens of other G8 countries and even several developing economies (however, their ownership of smart phones is growing quickly).

Conducted in 32 countries, TNS’s 2009 Global Telecoms study shows that Canada’s level of mobile penetration has been stable over the past year, with 70% of Canadians aged 16-60 claiming ownership – putting Canada near the bottom of all the markets surveyed, on par with consumers in Vietnam and Mexico (based on urban respondents only) and just ahead of India, which ranked last.

The remaining 30% of Canadians who do not own a mobile phone mainly consist of ‘rejecters’, consumers who have no intention of purchasing a phone within the next 12 months.

(On average, Canadians are willing to spend USD 114 on their next mobile phone, the second lowest of all countries included in the study except for Pakistan.)

As well, in other markets, the mobile handset is viewed and used as a more multi-functional device, allowing convergence of voice, Internet and music functions among others than in Canada.

However, in Canada, the penetration of smart phones (multi-functional devices offering advanced features like e-mail, Internet, personal organizers and touch screens) has nearly doubled from 12% to 21% – consistent with the global trend. The explosive growth of smart phones in Canada has been driven heavily by the under 30s crowd, suggesting a potentially divided mobile market, where the inertia is confined to older age groups.

In addition, consumers are now demanding more from their next device. When asked about the most important features they would like to have in their next mobile phone, Canadians mentioned Bluetooth, GPS and touch-screen capabilities – a significant shift from last year, where more primary basic functions were desired, such as text messaging and built-in cameras.

“Canadians are reluctant to spend a significant amount more on their next purchase, which means that the gap between what they desire and what they eventually acquire could remain disparate for some time,” says Michael Ennamorato, executive vice president, TNS Canadian Facts.

The 2009 TNS Global Telecoms Insight study was conducted in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, UAE, UK, USA and Vietnam.

Over 20,000 participants were asked to comment on their usage of and attitudes towards telecommunications devices, with mobile phones forming the core of the study.

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