South Africans love their cells


10 June 2005

South Africans just love their cellphones.

That’s the conclusion of a study released by leading technology researchers World Wide Worx and market research firm Plus 94 Harris.

“The Impact of Mobile Technologies on the South African Consumer” is the sixth, and final, part of the Mobility 2005 study that investigated the use of cellphones and cellular technology by large corporations, small and medium-sized enterprises, and individual consumers.

The year-long study involved the participation of 2 400 consumers, 152 SMEs and 100 large corporations.

“Across half a dozen dimensions we rated, people were extremely satisfied with the impact of cellphones on their lives.”Cellphone users’ satisfaction was measured across a number of categories, including satisfaction with network service and impact on family security, personal life and work life.Astonishingly, 92.1% was the lowest level of satisfaction attained across all categories.

Lure of free/cheap handsets
Of those users with a contract, more than half said they’d been lured by the offer of a free or cheap handset. Half of the respondents said they’d obtained a new phone in the last year, and half again of these respondents said they would replace their current handset within a year.The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) is considering regulatory proposals to limit the use of subsidised handsets as a contract sales incentive, something that would have a dramatic effect of the country’s cellular market.Goldstuck put the total number of cellphones users in the country at about 18.5-million, somewhat less than the 22-million touted by cellular service providers. He said he expected the market to reach the landmark of 50% of the population “within a year”.

‘Knows’ and ‘know-nots’
The uptake of data and internet use via cellphone had been surprisingly slow, Plus 94 Harris director Peter Searll told journalists at the same briefing. This was in spite of the recent drastic reduction of data prices and the introduction of 3G technology to the South African market.The widespread use of SMS technology has been suggested as a barrier to the adoption of more advanced cellphone technology.Searll said that one of the most important findings of the consumer research was that “the digital divide is not only a function of haves and have-nots, but also a function of knows and know-nots.”Educating customers, he said, was one of the keys to closing the divide.

Game’s up for cellphone thieves
An agreement between South Africa’s cellular service providers, Business Against Crime and the SA Police Service is set to render all reported stolen cellphones useless.
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