Broadband Market Research Shows Need for New Strategies

MetaFacts Inc. released broadband adoption and market segmentation results last week from its annual Technology User Profile (TUP) research. In a nutshell, their survey of 32,130 U.S. households found that 58 percent of homes now own a PC, representing 64.3 million homes. While nearly all PC homes now have some type of Internet connection, only 46% of PC homes have broadband. And looking at the population as a whole, that means under 27% of all U.S. homes have broadband. To state the obvious, broadband services for PCs still has significant room for growth. However, looking at MetaFacts' lifestyle segmentation data, it is clear that going forward, savvy service providers should also look for ways to sell what I'll call 'transparent broadband' links. In other words, services enabled by broadband, but sold in a bundle, so the consumer is unaware of the underlying transport. Here's a simple example. The three lifestyle groups with the lowest broadband penetration are 'Single Active Seniors' (13.9% penetration), 'Married, Household Head 75 + Years' (12.6%) and 'Single, Household Head 75+ Years' (8.6%). Instead of trying to convince them to buy a broadband PC service, why not use a cable modem connection to enable a service they might really want? For example, consider a service like Ceiva (http://www.ceiva.com), that enables digital photos to be sent to technologically illiterate family members. Basically, a picture-frame monitor is plugged into an electrical outlet and phone line and dials in to download photos posted on a web site. Why not make a broadband Cieva-style device that also receives homes videos or the grandkids? Or, for seniors, why not use broadband links for home health and medical monitoring? Or, why not even let AT&T and Vonage resell a broadband link that only supports voice-calls to and from their network as part of a 'cheap phone' plan? Let's think outside the box, folks. The $40-a-month broadband PC service only addresses a slice of the available market. More info on the MetaFacts study is available online at http://www.technologyuser.com/pages/info/tup_dates/tupan04_d07.htm
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