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November 12, 2008

Six degrees of smartphone separation

GLOBAL – Multimedia computers, as Anssi likes to call them, are vastly complex devices. Go beyond the standard voice, text and camera and you’re in a world of maps, Internet, email, GPS, WiFi, music, video not to mention third party apps, services and games. To work out how popular these functions are, and what users like and don’t like Nokia likes to do a bit of research. Using a software app called Smartphone360, it can track usage of functions and features, combining data from myriad devices to work out exactly how popular certain phone features are.

The research has been going on simultaneously in different countries around the world for some time now (they started in the UK in 2005) and Nokia has just published the results of the UK survey. Smartphone360 is
a simple Symbian app which collects data on the device’s usage, including feature usage and frequency patterns. Data is sent to a central server, anonymously, and the results are used for product, operator and application planning and design.

You can view the whole survey below, but some highlights stood out for me, if only because of certain feature’s popularity. Between 2007 and 2008 browsing took a big leap with almost 90 per cent of panelists
browsing actively. Music took a big leap in 2007 and a further jump in 2007, which kind of reinforces (or makes clear) the Comes with Music strategy. I didn’t think so many (over 60 per cent) would be active
music listeners. The biggest jump in the UK though came from Maps, which went from 10 per cent in 2007 to 50 per cent in 2008. I’m sure it’ll be taking another big leap next year too. This tallies with recent research published by Canalys which shows GPS-enabled smartphone sales doubling, whilst Personal Navigation Devices fall.

Working out when a feature or application is used can tell a lot about it. Music, for example, peaked in commuting hours, though proved to be less erratic at the weekends, whereas gaming proved to be more of an evening activity (yep, UK TV really is that bad). Sticking with the work-based theme, Maps showed more usage at the weekend than it did during the week.

Average monthly usage of email jumped to 4.6MB in 2008, up from 1.5MB in 2007 with Gmail proving to be the most popular third party email app. Overall a lot more people were actively using email this year over
previous years. S60 email though still held out top slot over webmail and Gmail.

Overall I don’t think there’s any surprises here. What is interesting though is that what I guess we all think (or at least I think) turns out to be fairly accurate (bar the odd surprises). I’m interested to see what happens with Maps as we see more devices rolling out with GPS and Maps on board, and whether games usage will see a bounce now Ngage is gathering some momentum. What do you think?

Smartphone360 survey

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: users nokia)