Research commissioned by telecoms solutions provider OpenCloud (and conducted by research agency Loudhouse) says conventional voice call and text services remain the most heavily-used revenue-generating functions on mobile phones. It's warning network operators that the appetite for downloading apps appears to be over, with consumers preferring the built-in functionality of mobile phones and pre-loaded apps to downloaded applications.
The UK-based survey revealed that 45% of mobile users had the ability to download apps but only 39% of those people – less than 18% of all mobile users - regularly did so. 50% of smartphone users hadn't downloaded any apps in the previous month while 38% of smartphone users said they only downloaded free apps. The average user has downloaded a total of 14 apps.
Text messaging was the most frequently used mobile phone function, with 83% of consumers admitting to regular texting. 47% take photos, 29% browse the mobile web, 28% enjoy music on their mobiles and 22% use email.
Jeff Gordon, CEO at OpenCloud, said "This research indicates that mobile operators need to look at their mobile and smartphone strategies. We know that consumers are increasingly savvy with technology and, in particular, their use and expectations of mobile phones. However, apps are not the reason consumers buy their phones, and they are certainly far from being the ‘cash cow’ operators hoped for. The results echo research we conducted on this area last year, and further strengthen the proposition that the fundamental reason people have phones is to communicate with each other. Apps are not essential for consumers’ mobile lifestyles and with 85% of operators’ revenue still coming from person-to-person communications, this research indicates that although mobiles contain lots of useful features and functions, few of these deliver incremental revenues for operators and, instead, are part of the competitive handset market. What it does suggest is that operators should concentrate their activities around rich communication services, such as location-based services and improving the quality of voice calls, and look to innovate here."
[Executive summary (pdf)]