US Mobile Phone Adoption Continues to Climb

Single-phone households are currently a declining minority, and households with four or more mobile phones have grown at a rate of 57 percent in the past year.

“The wireless market continues to defy predictions that it is approaching its saturation point,” says Forrester Research Principal Analyst Charles S. Golvin. “But while consumers keep buying, they are far from ecstatic with their mobile providers. Despite carriers’ focus on improving their networks and customer service, customer satisfaction has declined over the past three years and hovers around 50 percent in key categories like customer service and call dependability.”

The “US Mobile Growth Defies Conventional Wisdom” report draws from Forrester’s annual Consumer Technographics(R) North American Benchmark Study and includes findings on consumer attitudes toward mobile providers and phone features, data on carrier market share, and customer satisfaction rankings. Key data points include:

— Post-consolidation, the top three mobile carriers will own seven out of 10 mobile households: Cingular (28 percent), Verizon (27 percent), and Sprint/Nextel (15 percent).

— Despite a move by providers to add features like digital cameras and color screens to their phones, consumers’ priorities when purchasing a phone have not shifted over the past two years. Basic features like price, battery life, and ease of use continue to be most important features to consumers. Less than one in 10 subscribers says that a camera is important in their phone purchase decision.

— While basic features are most important to consumers when choosing a phone, wireless data functions, such as the ability to access email and share photos, are becoming increasingly important. Twenty percent of consumers say that having data capabilities is important when purchasing a new phone — a 39 percent increase over 2002.

— In 2004, the youngest age category in Forrester’s survey (18 to 24 years) surpassed 25- to 34-year-olds as the age group that is most likely to have a mobile phone. The only age group below 50 percent penetration for mobile phones is the 65 and older age group.

— Prepaid users have doubled in the past two years, reaching close to 11 percent of mobile phone consumers in 2004.