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.