UAE mobile users are technophiles, says study

TNS survey identifies key mobile usage patterns

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By  Derek Francis Published  May 12, 2008

The average lifespan of a mobile handset in the UAE is two years, compared with a global average of three years, demonstrating consumers' demand for new technology, according to the latest study.

The third Global Telecom Insights (GTI 2007-8) survey by TNS, which encompassed 16,000 interviews in 30 markets, has revealed some interesting trends in mobile usage patterns.

"This survey is our effort to gain insights about mobile users across the globe and I believe that GTI is the most comprehensive survey of its kind across the world which maps unique patterns of behaviour," said Steve Hamilton-Clark, managing director, TNS MENA.

When it comes to ownership, while most users have new mobile phones, it is more often the case that women received their mobile handsets as gifts, while men buy their own phones. Gifting of phones in the UAE is mainly seen among the youngest group (16-20 year-olds) and the oldest (51-60 year-olds), giving marketers a focus for their campaigns for the gifting season.

Consumers in the Middle East are also willing to pay more for their next phone - spending an additional 29% on a new model after an average of two years. In addition, smart phone usage is increasing, with over one-thirds of mobile users owning a smartphone.

"All of these indicate some very unique behavioral cues which can be very useful to brand managers, technology professionals and marketing professionals who want a peek into the mind of the mobile consumer to plan their strategies," said Viraj Juthani, account director, TNS.

"The study reveals that the key driver to buy a new handset is the need to keep up with the latest in technological developments, and cost of the handset is therefore not a constraint," he added.

Other key insights reveal that a majority (78%) of mobile users in the UAE use some form of mobile music service, whether it is FM or MP3, and the average time spent listening to such music is almost four hours per week. There is a high level of awareness in mobile music and other content services, but usage remains relatively low. The survey suggests that as much as 82% of people are aware of instant messaging, but only 9% utilize the service.

"Side loading seems to be on the rise when it comes to mobile music usage. People don't necessarily download music on their mobiles, but may use other means to transfer it," Viraj added.

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