Mobile Internet : perspectives from the Stakeholders

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ECREA 2012, 24-27 October – Istanbul


Mobile internet represents a major new trend in communication technologies use and consumption, but few evidence exists that confirms claims of novelty and social change in association with this technology use. This paper characterizes the use of mobile internet in a southern European country and associated patterns of use, focusing both on users’ profiles, forms of access, motivations to use and most popular activities undertaken via this technology, from a diffusion of innovations and social adoption of technologies perspectives, and tries to compare mobile it with fixed access to the internet in order to validate possible transformations that point to new social configurations. We seek to understand the way stakeholders perceive and characterize the European context of mobile internet. The depicted study involved a qualitative stage consisting of a set of interviews with mobile communications industry representatives and market research community in the country. These interviews were analysed in Nvivo, leading to the following eleven main categories that are explored throughout the paper: smartphones in Europe, mobile internet in Europe, users profiles, obstacles to the spread, forms of access, forms of use, motivations to use mobile internet, limitations of smartphones, apps, digital divide VS digital union and predictions for the future, as well as several subcategories forming a tree categorization. According to the data collected, mobile phones’ sales are decreasing in Europe and worldwide but on the other hand smartphones are having an exponential growth which leads to the democratization of internet access via mobile devices. As a consequence of this, it is believed that mobile internet access will soon exceed the fixed one. Mobile internet users are multiplatform, they exploit all the possibilities of mobility and they are spending less time on computers. The main obstacles to the spread of mobile internet are the high prices of price plans and there is still a lack of information and knowledge regarding the service. Mobile internet users are developing new online surfing behaviours based on apps and less in browsers and social networks represent a very high share of internet traffic through mobile phones. With mobility, “dead time” is turning into useful time and users are more likely to be available to try new services and analyze products. Innovative services concerning geolocation, consumerism, share and relationships are growing and it is necessary to highlight that mobile internet allows calling and texting, which can turn telecommunications companies into the role of Dump Pipes. This exploratory design raises questions in relation with mobile internet access and its social consequences, and provides interesting indicative research results relevant for future research in this area.