Mobile Study Says Web Trumps Family

An extensive global study of mobile phone users involving some 15,000 respondents in 37 countries indicates both problems and opportunities for marketers of next-generation devices, said Dave Murray, director of the CMO Council’s Forum to Advance the Mobile Experience.

The survey notes that the Internet has overtaken all other sources of information and referral when it comes to buying mobile devices. “It now supersedes family and friends,” said Murray.

He also pointed out the number of “power users” who want advanced services such as music and video downloading in countries including the Philippines, India, Ukraine, and Turkey.

But affecting purchasing decisions for mobile phones is a worldwide dissatisfaction with the buying experience. Users report “function fatigue”—confusion over the features they’re paying for—and frustration at point-of-sale. “The vast majority tell us they are buying through specialty stores, but they still can’t find knowledgeable sales staff,” said Murray. “A better buying experience would provide a new opportunity to win customers.”

Marketers of “next generation devices” like the Apple iPod, Blackberry and Palm have a tougher challenge than more established cell phone manufacturers like Nokia, Motorola and Sony Ericsson. Added Murray: Whereas the “trust-to-awareness” ratio is nearly equal with cell phones, the “newer” devices have earned only three-quarters of that trust level. Murray said those device makers can catch up. “There’s a natural progression for Apple and Palm to build the trust level,” he said. “It should become a focus of marketers.”

The CMO Council’s Global Mobile Mindset Audit, conducted by Global Market Insite and sponsored by Palm, was delivered at a conference in Barcelona, Spain Feb. 12. The full report will be available in March, Murray said.