ITEM: A significant number of smartphone users in the US think they're using 4G phones, even though 4G phones don’t exist.
That’s according to a survey by consumer electronics shopping site Retrevo, which asked users when they plan to buy a 4G handset. Over a third of iPhone 4 users said they already had one. So did 29% of Android handset users, and 24% of BlackBerry users.
Retrevo chalks the results up to US consumers being “quite confused about 4G” – which also ties in to findings from the same survey that less than a quarter of respondents plan to sign up for 4G services. Of the ones who won’t, 30% cited cost as the main reason, with another 22% saying the cost wasn’t worth the performance upgrade.
It’s always worth taking these kinds of consumer surveys with a grain of salt, of course. For a start, “4G” has been a generic and overused term from a consumer marketing perspective for awhile – and in the states, “4G” can also mean Clearwire’s Wimax service. So it’s not clear if the “confusion” found in the survey is being compounded by the wording of the survey itself.
On the other hand, that in itself is a valuable lesson in the growing uselessness of the term “4G” – at least as a marketing tool. If the users can't keep their Gs straight, maybe it’s time to stop encouraging them to think in terms of “G” and get them focused more on value for money, some point where it’s not about 3G or 4G, but about this price package or that price package.
This is something LTE operators in Asia will be finding out one way or another as they figure out how to market their services. Meanwhile, it’d be fun as a control experiment to do a similar survey in other LTE markets to see how many smartphone users think they already own a “4G” phone.