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Market researchers tapping mobile data, but need to maintain security too

NOVEMBER 1, 2011 – A survey of 3,000 cellphone users from around the globe gives some insight into how market research can inform businesses as they try to devise mobile strategies and expand their customer bases.

The study from Oracle, Opportunity Calling: The Future of Mobile Communications – Take Two, reveals that 69 percent of respondents said they have smartphones, with 47 percent opting to increase the amount of data they use. That figure represents a larger group than those who use more texting or voice than they did in the past.

Consumers are also driving up demand for mobile applications, with 55 percent saying they have downloaded a free app and 25 percent reporting they have paid to install an app. Tablet computers are also gaining popularity, with 57 percent of respondents either planning to or already owning one of the mobile devices. Likewise, more people are downloading apps for their tablets.

“Customer demands continue to evolve rapidly. To maintain a competitive advantage, communications service providers must invest in information technology solutions that provide them the most flexibility and agility, enabling them to rapidly deliver innovative services or to adopt new business models as new opportunities arise,” stated Bhaskar Gorti, senior vice president and general manager of Oracle Communications. “Providers also have an enormous opportunity to enhance their customer relationships by engaging with them at every touch point, leveraging their dynamic role in consumers’ shopping experience, and providing valuable information about usage, new services and mobile security.”

Additionally, the survey revealed that 45 percent of consumers are comfortable enough to share details of where they are with a mobile app. Growing numbers of people are also electing to use mobile banking options and pay for items online with their phones.

The increase in mobile device usage creates greater opportunities for market researchers to gather statistics on consumer behavior and preferences. However, the study revealed that many consumers are still worried about security – more than two-thirds said they do not think or are not sure if the information they send over their devices is safe.

Consumers are also starting to use mobile devices at a younger age, which may open up a new demographic to market researchers. A study from Common Sense Media, Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America, indicates that 52 percent of children are exposed to a smartphone, tablet computer or video iPod at home, and 29 percent of parents have downloaded mobile apps for their children’s use. One-tenth of kids aged 5 to 8 use a computer several times a day, with only 10 percent of the age group never using a computer. The greatest proportion, 29 percent, use it several times per week.

Researchers also found that almost half of children aged 8 and under watch an average of two hours and 16 minutes with screen media in a day, whereas they get just 29 minutes each of exposure to reading and music. Children aged 0-2 spend almost one hour with screen media every day. However, the study also showed a disparity in the level of access to technology among low-income and higher-income children.

“As a nation, we need to continue to think about, research and debate the impact of media on young children,” the researchers said. “Media occupy such a substantial place in children’s lives that we ignore it – or take it for granted – at our peril.”