Thursday, 06 October 2011 13:30

Apple usurps Australian handset throne from Nokia as mobile data rules


Barely four years after launching the first iPhone, Apple has taken leadership of the mobile handset market in Australia, knocking the once dominant Nokia off its perch, according to a new survey of mobile phone users. The same survey shows that for the first time a majority of handset owners now have a mobile data allowance as smartphones rule the roost.


The 2011 Australian Mobile Phone Lifestyle Index (AMPLI), released by AIMIA, the peak industry body for Digital Content, Services and Applications in Australia, paints a picture of a rapid transition to mobile data use, through widespread take-up of smartphones and tablet computers.

According to the survey Apple (32%) now leads the Australian handset market from Nokia (28%), Samsung (13%), HTC (8%), Sony Ericsson (5%), LG (4%), Blackberry (3%), Motorola (3%) and Other (3%).

"There has been a clear shift in handset brand ownership in the last few years. Nokia ownership has been steadily decreasing, as has Motorola, while Apple has been steadily increasing in popularity since the impact of the iPhone release was first captured in 2009," the report states.

Smartphone ownership was captured for the first time in the AMPLI 2011 Survey - 67% of respondents stated they owned a Smartphone, which is slightly higher than the industry average.

Non voice use of mobile was also up markedly on previous surveys with 83% of respondents using their mobile phone for a purpose other than voice and SMS (texting) in the last 12 months, which was the same as last year and up from Survey 5 in 2009 (77%).

There has been a strong increase in the use of every listed purpose (excepting SMS and voice, which almost everyone already uses). However, the total proportion of respondents who used their mobile phone for a purpose apart from texting and voice was the same as last year, 83%. This suggests that those using their mobile phone beyond texting and voice are using their phone for an increasing range of purpose as it becomes increasingly integral in their day to day activities.

  o 51% of respondents browsed the Internet on their mobile phone at least on a weekly basis, compared to 35% last year and 32% in 2009.
  o 54% of respondents visited a website on their mobile phone at least on a weekly basis, compared to 38% last year and 34% in 2009.
  o Half of the respondents conducted a search using a mobile search engine on their mobile phone at least on a weekly basis, compared to 31% last year and 25% in 2009.
  o 25% of respondents used their mobile phone for banking at least on a weekly basis, compared to 16% last year and 11% in 2009.
  o 20% of respondents used their mobile phone to make payments at least on a weekly basis, compared to 9% last year and 7% in 2009.



In the last 12 months the use of all communication services has increased. However, the greatest increases have been in the use of email and social networking on the mobile phone.

  o 63% used MMS, up from 59% last year and 57% in 2009.
  o 55% used email, up from 42% last year and 36% in 2009.
  o 53% used social networking, up from 39% last year and 32% in 2009.
  o 26% used instant messaging, up from 21% last year and 18% in 2009.
  o 20% used video calling, compared to 14% last year and 20% in 2009.o 12% used chat, up from 9% last year and in 2009.

In addition, almost half of the respondents to the survey of more than 2000 mobile phone users either have a tablet or plan to purchase one in the next 6 or 12 months (49%).

Far from being a device for children and young people, the survey found that tablets are being utilised most by adults:

  o 85% of those who own a Tablet are aged over 25 years
  o 45% are 26>41 yrs old and
  o 40% are ≥41.

As far as mobile phone costs were concerned, 12% spent less than $20, 27% spent between $21 and $40, 26% spent between $41 and $60, while 20% spent more than $80 63% of respondents said they had data included in their payment plans, a substantial increase from 47% in 2010 and 31% in 2009.

he amount of data included in their plans has also been steadily increasing; 32% of respondents now have 1-3GB included in their payment options, compared to 14% last year. This has been largely offset by a decrease in those with less than 50MB - 8%, down from 24% last year.

Around a quarter of the respondents would use their mobile phone as a credit card or EFTPOS card but about 20% are undecided suggesting they would need additional information to make a decision, which is not unusual given the use of the phone as a credit card or EFTPOS cards is still very much an emerging service.

For the first time this year the additional category 'at least 5 times a day' was included in the frequency scale to capture very high-level users. Social networking had the highest percentage of very high-level users (20%), followed by email (19%). Respondents used the remaining communication services infrequently.

Use of mobile phone applications has increased with a small shift towards the use of applications for work as well as personal use.

  o 55% said they had downloaded and installed an application on their mobile phone in the 'last 6 months', up from 41% last year
  o 48% used apps for personal use only down from 58% last year
  o 34% used apps for 'mainly personal use' up from 27% last year
  o 14% used apps for 'about equal personal and work use', up from 10% last year.
  o 2% used apps for work only, the same as last year.



Mobile phone advertising and marketing is also gaining widespread acceptance; 40% of the respondents had agreed to receive SMS or MMS messages from businesses on their mobile phone.

Respondents had opted in to receive messages from a range of businesses; the most common being banking and 'other retail stores' apart from department stores. The overall spread across the various options suggests a range of industries are choosing to communicate with their customers via the mobile phone. Of those who opted in:

  o 44% opted in to banking type businesses.
  o 32% opted in to 'other retail stores'- apart from department stores.
  o 21% opted in to health and beauty providers.
  o 16% opted in to travel shops.
  o 15% opted in to night-clubs, pubs and bars.
  o 15% opted in to department stores.
  o 14% opted in to cinemas and theatres.
  o 11% opted in to group discount sites.
  o 10% opted in to employment agencies.
  o 10% opted in to other entertainment providers.
  o 9% opted in to restaurants and cafes.
  o 6% opted in to car dealers.

However, advertising on the mobile phone currently has a low conversion rate to purchase. This is thought to be because the design of ads and marketing messages on the mobile phone, and the corresponding exposure and engagement by users is still very much an evolving activity.

Only a small percentage of respondents (17% for SMS and Banner ads and 12% for MMS ads) claimed that engaging with an ad on their mobile led them to the purchase of the advertised product more than 5% of the time. Just over 60% of respondents stated that engaging with an ad on their mobile phones never led to the purchase of the product/service being advertised.

The one real downside in the report was the decreasing satisfaction among users with carriers - 76% this year compared to 90% in 2010.

'The AMPLI report provides the industry with valuable independent information about the profile, usage behaviour and preferences of Australian mobile phone users,' said John Butterworth, CEO for AIMIA. 'For the first time this year we've seen more than half the respondents indicate they have a mobile data allowance as part of their phone plan, which is a significant tipping point. When you take a closer look at the results you can see that people are beginning to understand and unleash the capabilities of their phones.'

Dr Marisa Maio Mackay, Research Consultant for the Mnet Group and Director of Complete the Picture Consulting said, "This year we've seen an increase in the variety of different services being used, but a stabilisation in the base percentage of people using mobile data services. This builds on last year's results, which indicated many 'beginner users' were trying out mobile services for the first time.  We're now seeing the use of a broader range of mobile services that have now become entrenched in the day-to-day lives of users.'

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Stan Beer

Stan Beer, co-founded iTWire together witn former AAP journalist Peter Dinham in 2005. Today, he assists with Digital Advertising installation and monitoring of advert performance. With 35 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications. Any previous news story submissions should be director to and advertising enquires to

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