It may not be as sexy as mobile video but it turns out to be what people actually want while mobile. A survey of more than 1,000 early adopters and business users of mobile phones by the market research firm In-Stat found only lukewarm enthusiasm for mobile video, long touted as a killer application, but it did find surprising interest in using cell phones as navigational tools.
“There’s been some disappointment with consumer uptake of value-added 3G services,” said In-Stat analyst David Chamberlain. Customers just haven’t been all that eager to pay extra to watch clips from yesterday’s ballgame on their phones’ tiny screens. Chamberlain found that only about 15 percent of the people surveyed expressed strong interest in mobile video. But he was surprised to find that 53 percent wanted their phones to tell them their location and help them find their way around. “People like the idea of getting directions from their phone to take them to their destination,” Chamberlain said. “They like getting suggestions about restaurants nearby and how to find them.”
What we think
These findings from In-Stat aren’t a surprise to us. Ask anyone from Generation Y – also known as “Millenniums” – to look in the Yellow Pages to find the nearest Thai restaurant and they’re likely to give you a blank look. Information doesn’t come from a “book” … it comes from the desktop web. And when they are mobile, this generation expects – nay demands – that this same information be available to them … but served up in a form factor that is more appropriate for the mobile device. Yes, this means maps … but it also means paring the information down to just the “tasty bits” an individual needs to decide what to do right then and there.