Wake up and plug in - Business Works
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Wake up and plug in

by Ed Marsden, Lead Telecoms Partner, Deloitte About a third of UK smartphone users - that's 11 million adults - look at their phone within five minutes of waking up, says Ed Marsden, lead telecoms partner at Deloitte. Our new research into UK mobile usage habits shows that this compares with 67% of 18-24 year olds who do so within 15 minutes.

The waking routine

The waking routine of most smartphone owners now starts with checking who has been in touch with them overnight. Most first check their text messages (33%), followed by e-mail (25%) and then social networks (14%).

Our research shows that people can't leave their phones alone once awake, with about one in six of us looking at them more than 50 times a day. 18-24 year-olds are the most intensive users, checking their device on average 53 times a day and for 13%, the figure is more than 100 times. In comparison, 65-75 year olds only check their device a mere 13 times a day on average and 56% less than 10 times.

Mobile phones have clearly become something of an addiction for many and have led to some people looking to unplug their devices and undergo a 'digital detox'. In the UK there are now digital detox camps where you surrender your phone to experience 'life off the grid', following the trend in Silicon Valley.

Connectivity - core smartphone functionality

When consumers were asked about why they may change their mobile network provider in the future, network quality for internet use (20%) was more important than network quality for phone calls (16%) for smartphone owners.

mobile operators need to ensure that their networks can support smatphones

The smartphone has rapidly become the device that many of us cannot live without. The demand for uninterrupted internet connectivity will increase as what we do with our phones becomes ever more important. Mobile operators need to ensure that their networks can support these critical devices.

Mobile banking

The popularity of mobile banking Apps is a function of device penetration, as well as consumer confidence.

The findings of our survey show that UK consumers are currently more open to the use of Apps for checking bank balances, with a third of UK adults with a phone currently using them. The use of mobile phones to transfer funds (15%) or make in-store payments (3%) is less popular so, most likely, this functionality is less needed.

The transfer of funds is easily achieved with online banking and the limited availability of NFC-enabled phones is a barrier to adoption. Another barrier to the uptake for mobile payment Apps is the growing popularity of a substitute product - contactless cards of which more than 40 million are in use in the UK.


By July 2013 one hundred billion Apps had been downloaded and by October in the same year there were two million available. In May 2014, the first App to reach one billion downloads was recorded.

While the aggregate number of App downloads remains impressive. this year's survey findings show a decline in average number downloaded. Consumers' reducing appetite for downloading Apps (even if they may use them frequently) and the limited take-up of App-related purchases may be casting a shadow over the market.

Playing games is one of the most popular activities on smartphones. According to our research, 'Games' is also the highest-grossing App category, accounting for over three-quarters of App store revenues.

However, only 12% pay for Apps or App subscriptions or make any in-App-related purchases, such as additional lives each month. Average monthly spend on Apps (excluding those who have never made an App-related purchase) was only £1.20 per smartphone owner.

Video fails to take off with 4G

When 4G was launched in 2013, we asked respondents with 4G which applications they were using more frequently. Watching video was the number one response. This year, among a much larger base of 4G subscribers, watching video had fallen to seventh place. Only a fifth (20%) of respondents watched more video since subscribing to 4G, a significant decline compared to 49% in 2013.

E-mail and social networks are now the applications which have been used more since adopting 4G.

Poor video take-up could be related to fears about data allowances: about a quarter of 4G subscribers have a data allowance of less than one gigabyte which allows approximately one hour of video streaming. A third of 4G subscribers have a data allowance of between one and three gigabytes.

4G enhancing the use of existing services

In the short-term, 4G data allowances may continue to inhibit video consumption. Watching video on 4G will remain occasional and used for short video clips rather than films or TV programmes. While 4G may not be changing the services for which smartphones are used, it is certainly enhancing the use of existing services.

Some smartphone users may avoid WiFi networks, especially when manual sign-in is required such as in coffee shops and while commuting. This may create the need for higher data allowances, thus increasing operators' ability to charge a premium for 4G.

For more information, please visit: www.deloitte.co.uk/mobileuk

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