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Russell J. Sapienza, Jr. Headshot

Smartphones -- Or, Really, Really, Really Smartphones?

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Consumer enthusiasm for smartphones will continue to intensify, triggered by virtually limitless potential use of apps. Mobile growth emphasizes location-based services and greater attention on privacy and security. With consumers increasingly relying on their smartphones for an astonishing range of activities, businesses will need to determine how to use mobility to capture growth and uncover new forms of competitive advantage, according to a new PwC report titled "The consumer-led mobile smartphone transformation." Based on an online survey and consumer focus group of approximately 3,300 U.S. smartphone users, the report reveals consumer smartphone behaviors and uncovers business challenges and growth drivers for smartphone activities over the next two years.

The study finds that tasks that consumers traditionally use their browser to perform -- such as purchasing merchandise, managing travel or personal finances and downloading or streaming videos -- are ripe for transition to smartphones, particularly companies that offer apps and functions that make those activities more secure and convenient. According to PwC, companies that leverage location-based services to boost advertising and marketing ROI and integrate mobile apps into the broader online, multi-screen mix to enhance the customer experience will lead the way in capturing greater mobile growth. Furthermore, companies must address consumers' concerns about privacy and security, especially for mobile commerce transactions.

Among key findings on how consumer behaviors for smartphone activity will evolve:
  • Consumer enthusiasm toward smartphones (and their reliance on the devices) will continue to strengthen: Most smartphone owners believe that the potential for their devices is limitless, a perception that is enhanced by the many apps that are available that facilitate the functionality and value of the phone.
  • While only 12 percent currently purchase merchandise with their smartphones, 45 percent anticipate that they will increase this activity in the next two years, with more than a third of those consumers (16 percent) expecting to at least double the time spent on this activity, a trend due to the expectation that apps will make the purchasing experience easier.
  • Some smartphone activities, such as accessing social media, will continue to skew toward specific genders or demographics: Certain activities that have "staying power" in demographic skews include checking news, sports and weather (males), accessing social media networks (females) and uploading video (18-24 year olds).
  • Location-based services appear poised for growth: 69 percent of 18-24 year olds use their smartphone at least once a week to find a location or place while 21 percent use their phone for this daily. More interestingly, smartphone users are willing to forgo some privacy concerns in return for the right value proposition.
  • Consumers will continue to embrace apps over browser-based access: Most popular apps include checking news, sports and weather, accessing a social network, finding a location or place and accessing online research.

To learn more about PwC's ongoing consumer research program which gains directional insights on consumer attitudes and behaviors in the rapidly changing media landscape, please go to pwc.com/consumerintelligenceseries.

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