Design Challenge: Mobile Users Want More Multimedia Access But Won’t Pay The Price

Users of mobile computing and portable communications devices want to access more multimedia content, but are being held back by the lack of availability of low-cost, converged functionality devices, according to the results of a survey conducted by ABI Research on behalf of Mirics Semiconductor. The survey results also highlight that while users of portable consumer electronics (CE) devices have a clear vision of the increased functionality they would like from their device, they are not prepared to pay a price premium for these added features.

The research, which was recently conducted among 1000 adults in the U.S.A., UK, and Japan who regularly use a mobile CE device, revealed consumer interest in a wide variety of services that all rely on differing wireless communication technologies. Global Positioning System (GPS) location-based services, Wi-Fi Internet connection, and the ability to receive live TV content were among the most frequent functional requests in consumers’ future devices, as was the ability to easily transfer large files wirelessly. Unsurprisingly, faster Internet access was the most popular choice.

Consumers in all regions expressed general satisfaction with the physical aspects of their existing primary device: overall size, weight, and screen size were judged “just right” by the majority. The implication is that manufacturers are catering successfully to the needs of most users in this area.

Two thirds of those surveyed already have a Wi-Fi enabled mobile device, and the majority of the remainder expressed interest in using it in a future device. More than 50% of the respondents would like to use their mobile device as an “electronic wallet” to pay for items such as retail goods and public transport services. A mobile device equipped with NFC (near field communication) wireless technology would support such functionality. Over 40% of respondents are accessing more content than a year ago. The most commonly cited reason for this is that their current device has the features that enable easier access to multimedia content. In addition, 43% of the sample had accessed live TV or video on demand (VoD) using their mobile device. Looking forward, 82% of respondents predicted they would be accessing more or at least the same content on their mobile devices in one year’s time compared with their current usage.

When asked what type of mobile content they would like that they cannot or do not access now, the most popular request was to receive live TV, followed by VoD. Those interested in receiving live TV indicated they would be prepared to pay on average 5 to 8 USD per month for the service. However, when asked how much extra they would be prepared to pay for a new primary mobile device, assuming it had all the features and functionality they wanted, the most common response (given by 40% of those surveyed) was nothing, and only 16% of all respondents were prepared to pay up to 25 USD for this functionality.

Commenting on the research, Chet Babla, marcom director for Mirics Semiconductor, said “Wi-Fi, GPS, streamed audio and video content, NFC, and live TV all require different wireless technologies to be supported in portable devices to deliver the multimedia experience that consumers want. The challenge for device developers is to support these multiple wireless technologies without significantly impacting end-product price. Innovative approaches such as software-based modems—whereby key wireless functional blocks conventionally implemented in silicon hardware are replaced with the flexibility of software—will be crucial to achieving this convergence at an acceptable cost point.”

TAGS: Mobile
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