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Users of Non-Voice Applications are Wireless Industry's Best Customers
Posted: 24-Sep-2004 [Source: Harris Interactive]

[Survey finds users of non-voice services spending considerably more than other cellular subscribers, teens and twenty year-olds the primary early adopters of non-voice services, and use of non-voice applications differs among major US carriers.]

Rochester, NY, Washington, and Reston, VA -- A recent ForceNine Consulting/Wirthlin Worldwide survey released today by Harris Interactive(R) showed that except for text messaging, non-voice applications are in their early, "take-off" stage of consumer acceptance and growth. Since users of non-voice services spend considerably more with their wireless carriers than other cellular subscribers, their value of non-voice services to carriers is already significant and will certainly grow. About 40 percent of non-voice service users pay extra for non-voice applications, though these charges currently represent less than 10 percent of their cellular bills.

"Currently, revenue from non-voice services represents only a small fraction of carriers' average revenue per user (ARPU). However, non-voice services bring disproportionate value to carriers." stated Andrew Roscoe, Partner with ForceNine Consulting. Mr. Roscoe continued: "These customers tend to come from segments that have higher average bills. Because non-voice services are in their early, high-growth stage, they are already having an important impact on ARPU growth, as was pointed out by several carriers in their second quarter 2004 earnings announcements."

The study also revealed that teens and twenty year-olds are the primary early adopters of non-voice services:

-- Twenty percent of younger cellular users send and receive email and browse the web with their cell phones, compared to about 7 percent of over-35 year old cellular subscribers.

-- Thirteen percent of younger cellular users take photos with camera phones, while only 3 percent of over-35 year olds use camera phones. -- Over half of younger cellular users do text messaging, compared to less than 20 percent of older users.

Dr. Barry Goodstadt, Wirthlin Worldwide executive and co-director of the study, noted that, "Usage of non-voice applications differs significantly among major wireless carriers. Verizon and Nextel lead in email usage, Sprint leads in camera phone usage, and T-Mobile is the leader in text messaging. The research suggests that focusing on these applications will ultimately be important for retaining higher paying cellular customers."

Wirthlin Worldwide and ForceNine Consulting collaborated on a telephone survey among adults in 1,000 randomly selected households, focusing on non- voice wireless applications, including text messaging, email, web browsing, taking and sending pictures, and downloading ring tones and screensavers. This study is the first of a series of research collaborations between ForceNine Consulting and Wirthlin Worldwide. Wirthlin and ForceNine are jointly providing market research and strategic planning services to carriers to support non-voice activities.


This survey was conducted by telephone within the United States between July 23 to 26, 2004 among a nationwide random digit dialed sample of adults (ages 18 years and over) in 1,000 households. Figures for age, sex, race, education, number of adults, number of voice/telephone lines in the household, region and size of place were weighted where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population.

In theory, with a probability sample of this size, one can say with 95 percent certainty that the results have a statistical precision of plus or minus 3 percentage points of what they would be if the entire U.S. adult population had been polled with complete accuracy. Unfortunately, there are several other possible sources of error in all polls or surveys that are probably more serious than theoretical calculations of sampling error. They include refusals to be interviewed (nonresponse), question wording and question order, interviewer bias, and weighting by demographic control data.


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