A Cross-Country Comparison of Mobile Service and Handset Usage

Abstract

This thesis discusses potential country-specific effects that might explain mobile subscriber behavior in different countries. There are both techno-economic and psycho-socio-cultural factors explaining crosscountry differences. Based on the theoretical framework several hypotheses are presented with regards to possible usage-level observations. The theoretical framework is utilized with a recently developed handset-based empirical research platform. Several international panel studies were implemented throughout 2005 and 2006 in five different countries (Finland, Germany, England, France and the U.S.), and usage-level behavior of recruited consumer subscribers was monitored over a course of 2-4 months. All in all, 1 726 smartphone users were included in the study. The data is analyzed with both descriptive statistics and regression methods. At the same time a crosscountry service usage index is developed. Normalized variables are used in studying the locus points of smartphone usage across countries. However, challenges remain in generalizing the results to the mass market domain. The empirical results indicate that the Finnish market lags other developed mobile markets on many fronts. In particular, in value-added service (VAS) usage Finns are behind other markets. However, in person-to-person service usage Finns perform moderately. The observations in Finland are probably driven by supply side economics as the Finnish mobile market ecosystem is horizontally oriented. Severe competition in conventional voice services has pushed mobile voice prices down but at the same time averted operator focus away from new data and multimedia services. At the time of the study handset bundling was prohibited in Finland, and operators did not see incentives to push new data services or to fully deploy 3G infrastructure. The fixed-to-mobile substitution in voice services, however, has experienced a fast takeoff in Finland. The U.S. market is active in terms of mobile Internet usage. Americans enjoy benefits from Internet spill-over services, i.e. fixed-to-mobile Internet convergence. Instead of SMS, which suffered from severe interoperability problems in the U.S. market, Americans fluently move straight to mobile email and instant messaging services. France distinguishes among the European markets because of active voice communication and Web browsing patterns. In Germany little mobile person-to-person service usage is observed, and in England mobile subscribers are most inclined to multimedia and SMS services. On a higher level two major conclusions can be drawn based on the theoretical discussion and empirical observations. First, handset bundling and power of operators might have positive initial effects on the emergence and adoption of new mobile services. Although handset bundling …

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Verkasalo2007ACC, title={A Cross-Country Comparison of Mobile Service and Handset Usage}, author={Hannu Verkasalo and Heikki H{\"a}mm{\"a}inen}, year={2007} }