Smartphones changing user expectations, says study

Natalie Apostolou
04 Nov 2009

The iPhone has changed consumer expectations about what they demand from handsets with a new survey revealing that consumers have significantly altered their UI experience demands.

A survey conducted by Canalys of more than 3,000 mobile phone users across France, Germany and the UK, revealed that 38% want finger-based touchscreens on their next handset. Just 16% opted for a stylus-based touchscreen.

When it came to brands, HTC and Apple stood out as having a much higher proportion of users wanting to stick with the same type of UI, while Sony Ericsson had the lowest proportion among the major handset vendors, at just 29%.

“The results suggest that consumer awareness of touchscreen UIs is very high, driven by the marketing of Apple, Samsung and others, and there is no doubt that the changes in device design we have seen over the past couple of years have produced some very exciting products,” said Canalys senior analyst Pete Cunningham.

The group with the least desire for touchscreen phones were those that currently use a stylus-based device.

“This is another example of how strongly current user experience sets future expectations,” Cunningham added.

Overall, future interest in finger-centric touchscreens varied little across demographic groups, tariff types and countries, reinforcing the view that they have mass-market appeal. Men showed a slightly higher preference than women – 40% versus 35%.

“We are at a critical time in the mobile industry. The user awareness and interest is clearly there, and the opportunity to drive a mass change in user interaction, and hence device capabilities and the opening up of new application and service revenue streams, is tantalizingly close.

“But only if users continue to embrace these new UIs once they have tried them. This is the new arena in which mobile vendors must differentiate themselves, and the user experience battle will spread to other product categories, such as netbooks.”

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