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February, 2005

Presentation Prep: Mobile Technology 1

I've been asked to speak at a conference in April about the millennial generation and technology. AS I understand it, I've been asked to take a futurist approach and examine how the millennial generation will interact with technology roughly 10 years from now. I figured since I'm preparing materials for my presentation anyway, I might as well do it here and hopefully get a bit of a dialogue going.

I was contacted because of my November, 2004 American Demographics article titled, "Coming of Age". In that article I examine the impact of mobile technology on youth. I talked about the big stuff like texting and ringtones, as well as some of the lesser talked about issues, such as cord-cutting (living without a land line, like me) and possible social ramifications of growing up with your own private phone and number.

Since mobile technology is definitely going to be a section of this presentation, I'm going to use this entry to start organizing some of my ideas and links. Feel free to comment on anything you find interesting.


1. Brier, Noah R. "Coming of Age." American Demographics. November, 2004.

"According to youthKnowhow, a London-based company that specializes in understanding youth behavior and applying this to develop better product and marketing strategies for wireless and new media companies, about 25.7 million kids in the U.S. between the ages of 5 and 19 are cell phone users. That's 40 percent of the population in that age range. As you might imagine, the balance tilts toward older kids. About 82 percent of 15- to 19-year-olds own mobile phones, versus 35 percent of 10- to 14-year-olds, and just 1 percent of 5- to 9-year-olds. By 2006, though, youthKnowhow projects that mobile penetration will reach 52 percent of the 5- to 19-year-old population. Add 20- to 24-year-olds to this mix and the yearly cell phone spend for 2006 could reach $16.7 billion among the under-24 demographic."
2. CEA. "CEA Survey Gives Insight Into Generation Tech: Exploring The Illusive Teen Consumer." CE.org. December 14, 2004.
Further showing the purchasing power of this age group, the number one item that teens have purchased with their own money was a cellular phone, with 23 percent of teens having bought one for themselves.

3. Ki-hong, Kim. "New Forms of Online Communication Spell End of Email Era in Korea." Chosun.com. November 28, 2004.

The ebbing of email is a phenomenon peculiar to Korea, an IT power. Leading the big change, unprecedented in the world, are our teens and those in their 20's. The perception that "email is an old and formal communication means" is rapidly spreading among them. "I use email when I send messages to elders," said a college student by the name of Park. For 22-year-old office worker Kim, "I use email only for receiving cellphone and credit card invoices."

. . .

The ebb of email is confirmed by a diminishing trend in pageviews, a tabulation of frequency in service used by email users. Daum Communication, the top email business in the country, saw its email service pageviews fall over 20 percent from 3.9 billion in October last year to 3 billion in October this year. By contrast, with SK Telecom, the nation's No. 1 communication firm, monthly SMS transmissions skyrocketed over 40 percent in October from 2.7 billion instances last October. Cyworld, a representative mini-homepage firm, witnessed its pageviews multiply over 26-fold from 650 million instances in October last year to 17 billion in October this year.

4. Brier, Noah R. "Coming of Age." American Demographics. November, 2004.
Among 5,500 mobile users surveyed by the Yankee Group, of the 80 percent of teens who have text messaging capabilities on their cell phone, 69 percent report sending or receiving at least a message a week. Of the 69 percent that text, almost 1 in 5 reports sending over 21 messages a week. "If we look at what you can do with your phone beyond voice, the most ubiquitous feature on a phone is text. If we look at teens and the youth market in general who have embraced IM on the PC, text is a natural," says Yankee Group senior analyst Linda Barrabee.

Wyndham Lewis, director of youthKnowhow, points to the American Idol TV show as a way to illustrate the popularity of text messaging in the U.S. "In the American elections in November 2002, 18- to 24-year-olds cast 8.6 million votes, compared with 16 million votes for American Idol." What's more, Lewis explains that even though young people could easily have voted for free using a land line, the majority chose to place their vote by text message. This is not entirely surprising, as more and more of America's youth are choosing to make their mobile phone their main voice communication medium. "Increasingly, people are just giving out their mobile numbers," says Lewis. This practice could have a huge impact on the telecommunications industry in the years to come.



Multimedia phone penetration is highest amongst those under the age of 18 with 67 percent. This is as opposed to 63 percent for 19-24 and 57% for 25-34.

37 percent of under-18s use photo messaging at least once a month. This compares to 29 percent when looking at all photo-capable mobile users.

Not surprisingly, under-18s are also most likely to download & play music (35 percent), download games (31 percent) and game with another player (16 percent).

(All data from "Mobinet Index 2004".)

Cord Cutting:

6. Kinzie, Susan. "Colleges' Land Lines Nearing Silent End". Washington Post. February 12, 2005.

Across the country, wired phones are becoming obsolete. Although not many colleges have eliminated them, "almost every major school is evaluating it," said Jeri Semer, executive director of the Association for Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education.

. . . .

It wasn't that long ago, a generation perhaps, when students had to wait in line to use communal phones in dormitory hallways. Five years ago, just over one-third of U.S. college students had cell phones on campus, according to a national survey by the market-research firm Student Monitor. In the fall, nearly nine of 10 did.

7. Woodyard, Chris. "Some Offices Opt for Cell Phones Only." USA Today. January 24, 2005.
In a move that other companies might soon follow, Sprint announced Monday that about 8,000 employees at Ford Motor will jettison their desktop phones and use cell phones exclusively.
Now that I have some of these quotes organized in one place I'll start to comment on them. Feel free to tell me some of your thoughts, I'd love to know what you guys think about current mobile trends. I added the numbers to make it easier to comment on specific items, so jump right in.
February 23, 2005
Noah Brier | Thanks for reading. | Don't fake the funk on a nasty dunk.