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13th April 2012

Cracks show in consumers' love affair with smartphones as internet performance disappoints

The consumer love affair with smartphones is showing signs of cooling in the UK amid frustration over poor mobile internet connectivity and performance, according to new research by Intersperience.

In the latest Intersperience study looking at mobile internet, consumers were asked to rate their satisfaction with the main devices they use to access the internet and only 39% rated smartphones as excellent for internet access. The results compare unfavourably with other devices such as laptops, PCs and iPads, all of which were rated as excellent by more than 80% of consumers.

Intersperience Chief Executive Paul Hudson said: “It’s not that people are any less keen to use smartphones for internet access, in fact the opposite is true. They are now so conditioned to expect 24/7 fast internet connection wherever they are via whatever device they choose that they are increasingly frustrated when smartphones fail to deliver.”

The key issues raised by consumers who expressed dissatisfaction with internet access via smartphones included: slow connections, interrupted signals and lack of universal connection in all UK localities. The study also highlighted the fact that tech-savvy consumers are becoming increasingly critical of apps with limited functionality.

Hudson said: “Usually consumer behaviour and the pace at which people adapt to innovation lags behind the speed of technological change. Unusually, we have detected evidence that this time consumers are ahead and the technology is failing to fulfil their desire to use smartphones to access a wide range of information on the move.

Mobile internet usage used to be defined by extreme micro use to access data quickly such as train times or sport scores but now consumers want to browse more widely on the move and perform more complex functions. We believe we’re seeing the start of a significant shift in mobile internet usage patterns.”

Evidence of significant dissatisfaction over smartphone internet performance emerged despite the fact that parallel research by Intersperience revealed that British consumers have a strong emotional dependence on their smartphones, with some even sleeping with them at night.

Hudson commented: “Consumers are emotionally connected to their smartphones - it’s just that the honeymoon period is over as far as performance is concerned. It’s logical to expect some kind of backlash when consumer satisfaction levels fall below 40%. The question arises of who consumers will hold to account for poor internet access performance and which brands will suffer as a result.”

The pathfinder survey of consumer attitudes on internet access via different devices forms part of a larger syndicated Intersperience research project ‘Internet on the Move’ which will be completed in early May. The project addresses critical issues for mobile internet from a consumer perspective including app preferences, Wi-Fi usage and flexibility of operating systems.

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