Britons just love their mobile phones

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A recent survey conducted for the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) led to the rather remarkable headline that the British are ‘the most emotionally attached to their mobile phones’.

See: http://www.bizreport.com/2012/11/brits-the-most-emotionally-attached-to-their-mobile-phones.html# According to the findings of the study conducted by Crowd DNA, “Sixty-one percent [of Britons] claimed they "couldn't live without their mobile" compared to 53% of Americans and 31% of South Koreans.”

The authors draw an interesting connection from this finding to argue that the personal connection people have with their mobile phone makes it a critical platform for the advertising strategies of information providers.

I am not sure if other surveys of Britons ask about this kind of attachment. In the Oxford Internet Surveys, we do ask: ‘For information in general, how important is each of the following to you as a source? Would you say they are essential, very important, important, or not so important or not important at all?”

Users of the Internet consider it to be their most important source of information – more important than television, newspapers or radio.* This is a quite different aspect of our relationship with the Internet and related technologies but they converge around their increasing centrality to consumers, and the likelihood that the mobile and mobile Internet will be increasingly significant.

That said, who would have guessed that Britons would be emotionally attached to their mobile phone? Is there other evidence that supports this claim?

*Dutton, W. H., and Blank, G. (2011), Next Generation Users: The Oxford Internet Survey 2011. Oxford: Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, p. 43.

Bill Dutton is Chair of Ofcom's Advisory Committee for England

2 Comments

Mobile versus TV or the Internet? A Note from Japan

A colleague from Japan, Tadamasa Kimura, a Professor at the University of Tokyo, sent me a set of findings of relevance to Britons' love affair with their mobile phones. It is from research commissioned in 2011 by Google, called 'Our Mobile Planet'. One set of findings from their second wave of surveys conducted in 2012 is related to responses to questions about how important a person's smartphone is in comparison to other media and devices. Specifically, 78% of Britons say they 'don't leave home without it', underscoring our reported love affair with the smartphone. However, when asked if they would rather give up TV than their smartphone, only 21% of Britons say yes. Moreover, only 15% of Britons say they find their smartphone more entertaining than TV. In contrast, 36% of Japanese respondents would give up TV rather than their smartphone. Likewise, only 21% of Britons would rather give up their computer than their smartphone.  In short, our love affair with the mobile and smartphone only goes so far. Most Britons would not leave their TV or the Internet for their smartphone, which is one reason why video and the Internet have become trigger services for the smartphone. See more about this study at: http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/mobileplanet/en/  With thanks to Professor Kimura.

Curious co-dependency between mass media and the Net in Japan

Bill, I thank you for referring to my note in your blog.
As you mentioned,36% of Japanese respondents would give up TV rather than their smartphone. In addition,29% of the Japanese find their smartphone more entertaining than TV and 78% do not leave home without it, which is as high as Britons.
These figures seem to suggest that we the Japanese are a great lover of our mobile phone.
However, Japanese team of World Internet Project has constantly revealed that TV has been by far the most favorite medium for the Japanese. Among TV, newspaper, radio, magazines, the Internet, the Japanese have shown the higest approval rate of TV as an information source, entertainment, and a trusted medium. Compared with other societies, the level of our love of TV is distinguished.
Professor Kaoru Endo, a member of Japanese team of WIP, has pointed out that a curious relationship has developed between cyberspace and the mass media in Japan. She calls this relationship “kan-media-sei,” strong co-dependency between the mass media and the Internet. Literally translated, “kan-media-sei” is “inter-media-ness.” By the term, she refers to a rather twisted relation between the existing mass media and the emerging Internet as a new and counter medium in Japan.
The mass media feels threatened by the Internet’s takeover; but it must rely on the Internet for the incessant seeking of new fads. Those who are deeply involved in, or one might even say addicted to, the Internet, are highly critical of the mass media; and yet, to find fault with the mass media and criticize it online is an objective in and of itself for these individuals.
Thus, we need to deepen our understanding of intricate relationship among smartphone, TV and the Internet in Japanese media-scape.