Today Sprint announced the results of the Sprint U.S. Consumer Wireless Usage Study, a nationwide survey of wireless phone users. The findings show that more than half of wireless phone subscribers (56 percent) rely on their mobile phones for features such as cameras, clocks, calendars, messaging, music and as a substitute flashlight for seeing in dark places.
"The list of features and data applications available on mobile phones continues to grow to meet the needs of consumers on the go," said Jeff Hallock, vice president of product marketing and strategy for Sprint. "Whether it's using location-based services to get driving directions, listening to streaming music or watching live TV, consumers are finding that the mobile phone is the one item they depend on most to stay connected and entertained."
One popular feature might even put an end to the age-old in-car argument over the need to stop and ask for directions. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (63 percent) said they would use their wireless phone to retrieve maps or directions. Cameras remain popular with wireless users, with 55 percent expressing interest in the product. Walkie-talkies and ring tones are also popular with consumers, each cited by 48 percent and Internet access garnered 43 percent interest.
Showing further evidence of the interest in camera phones, 53 percent of camera phone owners take photos with their phone. The overwhelming majority of these "phone-tographers" (96 percent) use their camera phones for spontaneous pictures; nearly one-third take pictures at family gatherings (32 percent) or of their pets (30 percent), while more than one-quarter (27 percent) snap shots at celebrations or on vacation. Respondents also use their camera phone while shopping (18 percent), at concerts (15 percent) and for business purposes (15 percent).
"Images captured on camera phones are not simply stored on the phone," Hallock said. "The majority of Sprint Picture Mail subscribers are active users of the service because they enjoy the ease and convenience of instantly taking, sharing, preserving, managing, editing, and printing digital images that are accessible from their phone and personal computer."
One-third of respondents (33 percent) said they want to play games on their phones. Those who currently do play games on their phones shared some interesting insight into their gaming habits. Fifty-seven percent claim to have played games in the doctor's office, 52 percent while commuting on the bus, train or subway, 37 percent while at the airport and nearly one-third of gamers (32 percent) admit to using the bathroom as a game room.
"Sprint continues to see a strong interest in mobile games from both casual gamers and active gamers - and some are complete fanatics about it," Hallock said. "For example, one customer has played Bejeweled Multiplayer by Jamdat more than 40,000 times - that's almost 2,000 hours of game play!"
The survey showed that the backlight on phones is a useful tool in a variety of settings. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (60 percent) have used the backlight to look for something in the dark, 43 percent to locate a keyhole, 34 percent to guide their way through the dark and 20 percent to read. Additionally, 6 percent have used their backlight to replace a cigarette lighter held over the head at a concert, 4 percent have used it to signal in code and 1 percent have used it to light their face while telling a ghost story.
Consumers are still flipping for flip phones, the phone style preferred by 70 percent of respondents. The next most popular was a "candy bar" style phone, savored by 18 percent. A rugged phone, business device and slider phone were each the style of choice for 4 percent.
With each new model, the wireless phone seems to increasingly resemble a gadget found in a James Bond movie. This survey identified some "out of the box" product additions that may not turn users into spies, but could turn the mobile phone into an even more unusual multi-purpose marvel. With more than one-quarter support, 27 percent of respondents want a printer/scanner/fax incorporated into their phone. A thermometer was the next most popular, garnering 17 percent support, followed by a money/business cardholder and a credit card, each receiving 15 percent support.
When asked what more mainstream features and functions wireless phone users might be interested in adding to their phone, still image cameras still topped the list (29 percent), followed by music players (22 percent) and video cameras (18 percent). A healthy portion of respondents expressed interest in instant messaging (15 percent), and games and TV/video clips both earned 8 percent of the vote.
"With the launch of the high-speed Sprint Power Vision Network, and the availability of robust, easy-to-use applications such as the Sprint Music Store, Sprint TV and Sprint Picture Mail, we expect the adoption rates of these and other entertainment-focused applications to grow and help customers truly realize the power of the "third screen" in their everyday lives," said Hallock.