Survey: US Lags in Mobility

The United States has always lagged behind Japan in having the latest and greatest technologies, but it’s actually dead last across the globe when it comes to even the basics of mobility, according to mobile messaging and commerce provider Sybase 365, a subsidiary of Sybase Inc.

The vendor’s survey of 4,100 mobile phone users across 16 countries indicated that even the most basic SMS mobile services in the US are “severely lacking.”

Meanwhile, China and India, and Asia in general, are growing quickly as consumers adopt new services and continue to use old stalwarts like text messaging. In China, 90 percent of respondents regularly made use of text messaging and instant messaging, compared to only 31.5 percent of US mobile phone users.

When it comes to mobile services and information access, mobile commerce, and mobile communications, the US also brought up the rear -- coming in at just 12.9 percent of respondents -- but it beat out Canada by 1 percent and Australia by less than that. In China, mobile users were four times as likely to use these services.

The survey, conducted by Loudhouse Research, should be taken with a grain of salt, considering that Sybase’s business is built on driving messaging-enabled services, but the results are nonetheless notable. Smartphones have taken off in the US more so than any other country, however, the services have yet to catch up with the rest of the world.

Diarmuid Mallon, senior manager of product marketing and mCommerce at Sybase, says that it’s not for a lack of desire either. 70 percent of the global respondents wanted extra services, and 65 percent were willing to pay for at least one. They didn’t necessarily want it to be cheap either.

“We found that if a service was presented at a lower price point (such as $1) it would receive a less favorable response than when presented at a higher price, indicating the risk of under pricing a service and making it less attractive to consumers,” Mallon said in an email.

Of the respondents, 55 percent were interested in mobile voice-over-IP, 46 percent wanted emergency alerts, and 39 percent wanted mobile banking services. Mobile users in Mexico were the most interested overall in new services.

The survey included respondents from Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, the UK, and the US.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:37:25 PM
re: Survey: US Lags in Mobility


It is definitely an odd jumble of facts.  The opening line that Japan always has the latest and greatest technology is in point of fact not exactly true.  In some fields, it might be true for some things.

The original buildout of the wireline network and other communications networks have definitely slowed the use of those same services over cellular networks.  In India, the cell phone is your phone.  In the US, the cell phone is your 2nd phone.  Non-voice applications of cell phones definitely roll off at a younger age in the US than other countries - probably for this reason.

On the other hand, the iPhone and iPad started in the US.  It seems to me that the US is jumping generations over other countries.  I wonder what the uptake of iPhone Apps is by country?


shygye75 12/5/2012 | 4:37:25 PM
re: Survey: US Lags in Mobility This is a tough one to follow. Is the conclusion that the US lags the rest of the world because (a) uptake is low, (b) overall demand is low, or (c) services aren't available? Also, do we take into account the fact that wireline service is ubiquitous in the US and a rarity in these emerging markets? And anyone who walks three blocks in Manhattan would question the notion that less than one-third of the population is using mobile services for text messaging.
shygye75 12/5/2012 | 4:37:23 PM
re: Survey: US Lags in Mobility I was on the 7 train a couple of Sundays ago heading to a Mets game (loss, of course). A couple of youngsters were consulting their iPhone to call up a map so they could count the number of stops left in the trip. It didn't occur to them to just look up at the hard-copy map that was posted directly over their head. I'd say we're gaining steadily on Japan, et al. in the technology veneration department.
sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 4:37:23 PM
re: Survey: US Lags in Mobility

I agree. I caught myself checking my iPhone for the weather instead of opening the blinds the other day, and I'm barely a Millennial.

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 4:37:23 PM
re: Survey: US Lags in Mobility

I think it's a combination of all three reasons you mentioned. A number of next-gen services like NFC aren't yet widespread in the US, but then it's also a matter of what's needed. The US is well-established in online banking, so the mobile service just complements that. But in developing regions, it is most users primary form of banking. For services like mobile TV, it is much bigger in Europe and areas where free-to-air is available, which is not the case in the US.

The texting finding did surprise me too. Voice calls are more expensive in a lot of markets outside the US, which definitely contributes to that.

PeteC 12/5/2012 | 4:37:16 PM
re: Survey: US Lags in Mobility

The subheading for this article stated that that US is "the home of the smartphone". Is this true? People in the US seem to equate the advent of the smartphone with the launch of the iPhone, whereas in Europe we thought we'd had smartphones made by the likes of Nokia and Sony-Ericsson years before that. Nokia is still the dominant smartphone vendor in the world, but I bet very few of those are sold in the US.

Gabriel Brown 12/5/2012 | 4:37:16 PM
re: Survey: US Lags in Mobility

I suppose you could see Palm (US) and Psion (UK) as the starting point for the modern smartphone. Or can we go back further?

Regardless, the U.S. is driving innovation in the smartphone sector today. It has such a critical mass of Internet, computing, web, IT, and media companies (and users) that no other market can come close.

Crucially, it's all done with a common language and culture. Europe and Japan can't match it.

I'm European (London), fwiw.



jepovic 12/5/2012 | 4:37:12 PM
re: Survey: US Lags in Mobility

"the U.S. is driving innovation in the smartphone sector today". That's a pretty strong statement - got any data to back it up? The US is certainly leading the media hype around smartphones, ingeneously led by Apple, but I'm not so sure that the actual innovation is led by the US. Show me an app, and in most cases it was already done by Docomo like 5-10 years ago. Also, since the media is so US-centric, it often fails to notice how many inventions are done by non-US companies with English names.

I could make a long list of applications where non-US countries are way ahead: Voting, payments (parking, buses), TV, streaming video, music (spotify). I've got all of that available right now. Plus, I've been able to do my taxes with my cell phone since about 6-7 years back. The available network speeds are also typically way ahead of the US. Now I'm referring to the bandwidth I can buy and use, not slideware from Clearwire...

From my experience, the US are leading one area: mobile email. It would be nice to hear about the other innovations where the US is leading the world.


quicktime 12/5/2012 | 4:37:10 PM
re: Survey: US Lags in Mobility

I agree with you,

Talking about Apple, iPhone is innovative on UI side instead of phone functionality.

As to iPad, it is a miracle, and maybe it only happened in U.S?

Palm tried to develop similar products 2 years ago, but terminated the product one

month before its release. Why is Apple so successful? Maybe it owns so many no-brain fanshion fans, like girls/women, who chased LV bags.

Get back to mobility, the wireless network coverage is pretty crappy in U.S, not mention to the bandwidth. Maybe it's because U.S people living in scattered areas and more money needed to deploy/upgrade out-of-date networking gears. It's not because U.S technologies lags behind, in fact, U.S is still the leader! However, the deployment is far behind non-U.S area. Not sure whether this will be improved in near future.

Also, if we checked big 3G/4G network device vendors, Errison, Nokia, Huawei, ZTE, Simens,

Alcatel .... where are they now?


Gabriel Brown 12/5/2012 | 4:37:10 PM
re: Survey: US Lags in Mobility

I agree with you in many respects. Other markets have delivered innovation, sure.

 But to defend my statement, it’s important not to underestimate Apple. What that firm has done is absolutely phenomenal. Incredible.

I say this as a Nokia user. Currently on N900 running Maemo 5, previously N95 8GB, before that E61 and before that N70, all of which run Symbian. Each of those devices has been innovative in different ways and has run innovative services.

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