Forget Features say Users

Milestone CMO Council/GMI study of nearly 15,000 consumers in nearly 37 countries shows users are overwhelmed by device features and underwhelmed by the buying and user experience.

“Function Fatigue” is afflicting mobile technology users worldwide and tops several consumer issues negatively impacting the embrace of new wireless devices and services, reports the CMO Council’s Forum to Advance the Mobile Experience (FAME).  
 
The CMO Council’s Global Mobile Mindset AuditTM, a milestone study of some 15,000 consumers in 37 countries, shows that “too many functions I did not use” is the number one device problem in all regions of the world. Compounding this complaint were disappointments in the early buying and ongoing ownership experience. Most notably, consumers gave low marks to retailers and carriers for lack of product demonstrations, sales associate knowledge, as well as slow service at point-of-sale.
 
Powered by GMI (Global Market Insite, Inc.), the CMO Council research initiative is part of an extensive authority leadership program by FAME, a strategic interest group of top marketers, associations and experts drawn from all sectors of the wireless ecosystem.
 
Key findings show that:
 
  •  Internet destinations have eclipsed friends and family as the most important source for researching and selecting devices
  •  There is a new generation of mobile technology power users in developing nations Function fatigue and feature frustration among users will challenge device makers to improve usability and education
  •  Global mobile users, particularly in developing countries, are willing to pay for a wide range of mobile content and service offerings
  •  Pain begins at point-of-purchase as users see lack of demos, product knowledge and slow service as problematic at retail
  •  Cost of service along with poor battery life tops the Irritation Index globally
  •  Americans and Western Europeans are most bothered by loud cell phone conversations  
  •  Paranoia of phone and data loss/theft is a key concern along with the annoyance of disconnects and drop-offs  

 
“Clearly, wireless operators, device manufacturers and sales channels need to be much closely aligned and integrated in creating a simpler, more satisfying and predictable user experience,” notes Dave Murray, director of the CMO Council’s FAME group.
 
“We saw profound variations between countries, cultures, user demographics and genders,” observes Michael Allenson, executive vice president at GMI, which fielded the survey through their research panel of six million people in nearly 200 countries worldwide. “There are huge opportunities in both established and emerging markets to extend the value, utility and appeal of mobile devices and services.”
 
Most surprisingly, the Global Mobile Mindset Audit reveals that consumers in developing countries are the new power users of wireless technology and report the highest levels of device dependency and greatest receptivity to the latest mobile applications and services.  
 
While a global economic powerhouse, the U.S. lags all other regions in mobile device ownership, advanced feature adoption, intent to buy and dependency. There is also less interest in personalizing devices with ring tones, wallpaper, and accessories.
 
Given the opportunity to reengineer their own devices, mobile users would first upgrade memory and storage and reduce the form factor; then improve design and styling, and make the device simpler and easier to use; and lastly, improve voice quality.   
 
Design innovator, Palm, Inc., which has received accolades for the user friendliness of its new Treo Series and Palm operating system, sees usability as a critical area of focus and investment. “Given the growing global dependency on mobile devices for all manner of business and lifestyle-essential interactions, our industry needs to take heed of these findings and apply our best resources to the needs and requirements of all customers worldwide,” notes Roy Bedlow, VP of Marketing, EMEA of Palm, Inc.  
 
“Ironically, most purchases are made through carriers and specialty cell phone stores where you would expect better customer handling and expertise, states Murray. “There appears to be a real opportunity for device makers and carriers to differentiate themselves by improving the buying experience,” he adds.