Multifunction Phones, Monofunction Owners

It’s one thing to buy a cell phone that can perform multiple functions. It’s another actually to use those capabilities. Polling by Mediamark Research Inc. quantifies the gaps, with the chart at right giving some specific numbers. As you’d guess, the youngest adults are the most likely to use the phone’s not-just-talking features. One example: 39 percent of 18-24-year-olds whose phones have game-playing features have used this function in the past 30 days, vs. 34 percent of the 25-34s, 24 percent of the 35-44s, 17 percent of the 45-54s and 16 percent of the 55-64s. Text messaging drops off in a similar pattern, from 59 percent among the 18-24s to 21 percent among the 55-64s. The camera feature is something of an exception. Though the 18-24s are more likely than the older cohorts to use it, usage is high even among people 65-plus whose phones have this capability. Forty percent of 65-plus respondents whose phones have this function have used it in the past 30 days. (Geezers may not be as technologically savvy as 20-year-olds, but they’re more likely to have photogenic grandchildren.) While it’s clear that many people in all age groups use their cell phones only to make calls, they’d be hard pressed to find a phone that hasn’t got the other features. More than 90 percent of the respondents’ phones have camera and text-messaging capabilities, eight in 10 can handle games and three-quarters are Web enabled. In all, the survey found 72 percent of adults now have a cell phone.