Mobile is just the beginning

Phone sharing in Europe and emerging economies

Via Experentia:

According to a recent Nokia survey of consumers in emerging markets [conducted in India, China, Brazil, Pakistan, Vietnam, Russia and Egypt], a new trend appears to be emerging: phone sharing. More than 50% of respondents in India, Pakistan and nearly 30% in Vietnam indicate that they share, or would share, their mobile phone with family or friends – a figure which contrasts consumer behaviour in more mature markets.

“Phone sharing is a logical trend – more and more families are purchasing a mobile phone for the entire family to use, not just the head of the household. In addition, digital cameras are quickly becoming more popular in these markets, and as such taking and sharing digital images is becoming more common,” adds Lambeek. “In response, Nokia has developed a number of innovative features like the multiple phonebook to support phone sharing, and we have added technologies like Bluetooth to some models to make transferring images and ringtones easy and affordable.”

Interestingly, this is not only occuring in emerging markets (although i’m sure that emerging market lead the way in this behaviour as it just plain makes sense for consumers with lower incomes.)

A recent large French study (French PDF) found that families in varying income brackets tend to share devices:

1. The mobile phone is no longer just a personal device. In 2007, the phone is integrated within collective practices both in the family and between friends.

Mobile phone are increasingly objects that circulate within a group. The owner of the mobile phone is no longer the only one to touch it, check it and use it.

Mobile phones can allow for exchanges based on the amount of credit left before the end of the month and on the range of hourly allowances when calls are free. This can also lead to a collective choice of operators, of discount plans and of prepaid cards, with the sole aim of optimising cost within the group.

Within the family, mobile phone reinforce the asymmetric role and character of the parent-child relationship: whereas parents do not think about money when calling their children, the children themselves try to save money by “beeping” their parents, in order to be called back.

The mobile of the child is a jointly managed tool and a transaction device. It is experienced by the parents – and mainly by the mothers – as an opportunity for exchange with their child and as a way for children to learn to manage a financial budget.

Within a group of friends, mobile phones serve to define roles and affinities. One can find the expert, and the user with difficulties, the “banker” who always has some credit, and the “borrower” who always asks for text messages and minutes (without ever giving them).

Beyond these roles, the mobile phone created relations of exclusivity with those whom one calls most often based on the tariff offers and their compatibility.

More on this study–again on Experentia.

2 Responses to “Phone sharing in Europe and emerging economies”

  1. Julie, writer

    What an interesting review. I’ve never really thought of a mobile phone as something to be shared with other people. It has always been a personal device so that whoever needs to contact me can get to me directly. Otherwise, it will just be like a home phone. But this study tells a lot about the culture and behavior of certain families.

  2. Tim Lucas

    Having seen a lot of the stats from here in Brazil, there has been a long term tradition of sharing phones, driven i think more by economics initially but also very much by families shifting from fixed to mobile within the domestic context. Ive just returned from Lima where i saw many examples of individuals standing around the landline telephone booths with a collection of mobile handsets which they will rent to you for a few cents, allowing you to choose the phone on the basis of which operator you wish to use, don’t know if anybody has any evidence of this elsewhere????


Leave a Reply

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS