Operators feel the heat from mobile content and apps brands

Mobile content and application providers are primary contenders in the race to become the brands that lead the mobile-technology category.

Latest TNS’ Global Telecoms Insights research reveals that a third of UK mobile users (33%) see content and applications – such as games, music and maps – as an important decision factor when choosing their next mobile handset.

In fact, 13% of UK mobile users consider content and applications to be the single most important handset purchase consideration, compared to only 9% who pick their phone based on the model of handset and 12% who make their choice based on the network operator. This demonstrates the growing power of content and application providers such as Facebook, Google and Twitter in the UK, where almost a fifth (19%) of us are regularly downloading applications – more than those that load ringtones (17%) and caller tunes (13%).

TNS’ research also explores where consumer brand loyalties lie and reveals how the rise of content and application brands are altering the landscape. While users are still the most loyal towards handset brands such as Nokia, Samsung, Apple and BlackBerry – which account for 51% of total consumer brand-commitment – 24% of UK mobile users are now placing their loyalties with content and application brands instead, while 25% are primarily loyal to their operator.

Among younger consumers (aged 16-30), content and application brands account for 37% of total commitment compared with just 12% who are primarily committed to their operator. As younger users are a leading-edge indicator of market development, this indicates that content and applications are very much on the rise, at the expense of the operators.

According to Stephen Yap, group director at TNS Technology: “As uptake and usage of mobile services proliferates, we are seeing profound changes in the way that people make purchase decisions and in the brands that are the most meaningful to them. While established handset makers are standing their ground, network operators are clearly under pressure from the rise of the likes of Facebook, Google and Twitter. These content providers are increasingly capturing consumers’ loyalties and are leading the way in bringing users the benefits of the latest mobile technologies.”