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Over 75 percent of mobile phone and PDA users in the United States rate 'two-days of battery life during active use' as the most important feature of an ideal converged device of the future, according to a new study by TNS, a leading global provider of market information. This feature is considered more important to the respondents of only two other countries included in the study - Sweden and The Netherlands, indicating the value that American technology users place on battery life. Over 75 percent of mobile phone and PDA users in the United States rate 'two-days of battery life during active use' as the most important feature of an ideal converged device of the future, according to a new study by TNS, a leading global provider of market information. This feature is considered more important to the respondents of only two other countries included in the study - Sweden and The Netherlands, indicating the value that American technology users place on battery life.
The study, conducted among 15 countries during July and August 2005, was undertaken to uncover what would drive consumer demand for mobile devices in the future, as well as benchmarking brand performance and use of existing mobile phone, PDA and laptop applications. One section of the study looked at consumer views on 'converged devices' a device which "will replace the multiple devices which people carry around now for all communication, information and entertainment needs" while being compact and incorporating a mobile phone and high speed Internet as standard.

According to the study, after battery life the next most important features to U.S. users were high resolution camera and video camera (50 percent of respondents), the availability of full versions of Microsoft Office applications on the device (42 percent), and a device with 20 Gigabytes of memory (41 percent).

Mirroring U.S. sentiments, 'two days of battery life during active use' topped the wish list of key features in 14 of the 15 countries surveyed, indicating that insufficient battery life is still a real "pain point" for consumers around the globe. Reaffirming this, concern with using up battery is one of the top reasons why consumers do not use games, music and TV applications on their mobile device more frequently. Respondents in China were the exception, saying '20 Gigabytes of memory' is the key feature to have in the future.

Across all countries, almost half of respondents say a 'high resolution camera and video camera' (48 percent) and '20 Gigabytes of memory' (47 percent), would be important features to incorporate. In Brazil, a much higher emphasis was placed on video conferencing with 53 percent of people identifying this as a key feature, compared to an average of just 25 percent across all countries surveyed.

Following the launch of Apple's new Rokr iTune phone, Sony Ericsson's Walkman W800 and the anticipated arrival of Nokia's N91 new mobile prior to the holiday season, new innovation in mobile technology is once again a hotly contested issue among manufacturers, operators and consumer electronics retailers. The market is again preparing itself for a period of intense competition to create the new 'must-have' device and build market share.

The results also provide a wealth of insights into how applications are currently being used. The report show that use of MMS is now fairly common across the globe, with 46 percent of mobile phone users interviewed saying they send pictures and photos via MMS, and 23 percent saying they send video or audio clips through MMS. Sending photos and pictures via MMS is used most amongst mobile phone users in Japan (80 percent), France (68 percent), Korea (66 percent) and UK (65 percent). Only 20 percent of U.S. respondents send video or audio clips through MMS, placing the U.S. among the lowest users of this technology in the world. 'Expensive charges' was the main reason cited for the lack of MMS take up (46 percent of mobile users), while 22 percent of mobile users said 'photo and video quality' was an issue, and 15 percent thought there were interoperability problems.

Camera use among global mobile phones owners is also prevalent, with 59 percent of people who own camera phones using them at least once a week. Camera phones were used most frequently in France, Korea and the UK with almost a quarter using this function daily. Only 10 percent of U.S. respondents use their camera phone on a daily basis, and almost 70 percent of users never use a camera phone at all. Camera features on PDA's are used relatively less frequently, with only 46 percent of PDA users with such a feature using it at least once a week.

The report also highlights differences across markets and shows that Internet telephony is used much more widely amongst laptop users in developing compared with developed markets. In Brazil, India and Russia, 44 percent, 30 percent and 22 percent of laptop users respectively use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), compared to just seven percent in the U.S. and two percent in Japan and the Netherlands. This is likely to be a reflection of, and reaction to, poorer infrastructure and less affordable telecommunication in developing markets.

Hanis Harun, Global Account Director, TNS Technology, comments: "The study shows that there is an appetite among consumers for powerful new applications, particularly those around entertainment media and imaging. However, the research also indicates that consumers now fully realize that such applications require enhanced battery life and increased memory and they are demanding these improvements as a priority.

"As mobile operators and handset manufacturers develop more converged communication, information and entertainment devices with a host of innovative features and applications, they need to also ensure the fundamentals are in place. This means products with long battery life and large memories, and services which are cost effective and easy to use."

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