Swapping mobile voice for data
26 July 2012 | Hilton Tarrant
The World Wide Worx Mobility 2012 study shows SAs spend 12% of their monthly budget on data (up from 8% in 2010), with voice dropping from 77% to 73%.
SMS spend remains steady at 12%, despite a dramatic increase in instant messaging services over the same period. BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) users have jumped 500% to total 17% of adult mobile users.
A quarter of adults use the instant messaging application WhatsApp, which MD of World Wide Worx Arthur Goldstuck points to coming out of “nowhere” in the past 18 months. In urban areas, WhatsApp is used by 41% of mobile phone users. Among youth, this figure is no doubt closer to double.
The spending patterns in Mobility 2012 offer some insight into real usage among consumers. Published data from Vodacom and MTN (especially ARPU numbers) is skewed by enterprise customers (at the high- end), and the extreme low-end where operators are chasing subscriber growth.
Peter Searll of Dashboard, which did the fieldwork for the survey, says average reported mobile spend is down 13% from 2010 (to around R200 a month). He suggests that even this number could be overstated by 15%.
On average, contract users spend R387 a month on mobile phone services.
15% of this (R60) is spent on data. Prepaid users spend R165 per month on average, with 11% of this (R20) being data.
So-called top-up contracts have grown significantly and now comprise 9% of the market (2010: 5%).
Prepaid dominates with 84% of the market, while 7% are contract subscribers. The other change evident over the last 18 months is the number of people who have more than one active cellphone SIM (only 11% today versus 15% in 2010). Searll suggests this is a function of the Rica legislation.
The strength of BlackBerry in SA remains evident. BlackBerry now commands 18% of the market (this number is as high as 24% in urban areas). In 2010 it had 4%. BBM usage – which has grown around fivefold (467%) in 18 months – provides further evidence of the rise of BlackBerry devices. SA has the highest rate of BlackBerry users who use BBM (98%) in the world.
Overall, Nokia leads the pack with 50% of the SA market, Samsung is tied with BlackBerry while the other manufacturers make up the remaining 14%.
World Wide Worx’s Goldstuck says the survey didn’t try to establish the split between feature and smartphones, because the “ordinary consumer doesn’t know the difference unless they bought it as such”.
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