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Re: <nettime> cell/mobile phones
sean aylward smith on 16 Nov 2000 06:16:48 -0000

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Re: <nettime> cell/mobile phones

> On Tue, Nov 14, 2000 at 12:15:19PM +1000, sean aylward smith wrote:
> > all the research on _why_ young women are taking up mobile phones
> > indicates the single most important reason for their adoption of
> > mobiles is security, not to call their friends.
> Clearly the respondents in such studies are lying.  You can't expect
> people to admit to wanting to enhance their image, not even on a
> questionnaire that maintains their anonymity.  The idea of security is

hmm, i have a real problem with disbelieving ppl when they say they're doing
something for some reason - strikes of vangardism to me. nevertheles, there are
other than political reasons for believing these surveys. they're generally
collated by mobile handset retailers when purchases are made, to better be able
to sell more mobiles in the near future (and tangentially, given the massive
uptake of mobiles, you'd suggest their marketing strategies are pretty
accurate, hence the survey data they're basing their strategies on must
similarly be...). this data, which is remarkably consistent across operators,
indicates that there are two distinct 'groups' buying phones for young ppl/
'young women' (however we choose to define this...).

these two sectors are determined primarily by economic necessity (isnt it
almost always the way?): the primary way phones are sold in autralia at the
moment is thru a leas-like system, in which the user signs a contract for a
specified period of time, without having to pay upfront for the mobile; the
high price of which is amortized (?) over the period of the lease/contract. cos
its a lease, ya need a credit rating to get one, hence most young ppl arnt
eligible.. hence their parents are the actual 'customer' as far as the operator
is concerned. these parents, when asked as they are, overwhelmingly state
'security' as the main reason for getting their child a phone.

the second way involves what is known as the 'training phone' or 'kiddie
phone', in which ya pay a sum upfront to buy the handset and some airtime, and
can buy additional airtime when it runs out. there's not credit provision here,
so ppl without credit record can get one easily (the operators defray any
potential financial risk thru the cheap-ish provision of handsets thru
extremely high call rates). and ppl without credit records, mostly young ppl,
are gettin em in vast numbers - such tht this method is expected to be the
dominant method for getting a mobile in australia in the next 12-18 months. and
_these_ customers, when polled, _also_ overwhelmingly cite 'seurity' as the
main reason for getting a phone.

part of the issue might be, that there is a vast difference between why ppl
_get_ a phone and why they _use_ it: the former is a sort of minimalist reason
for using a mobile: a sufficient cause for getting it but not using it, a way
of establishing a minimal amount of connection and communicability with ppl/ a
minimal enabling of relationships (and of the relationships that define humans
as humans, id add, but we probably shuoldnt divert into metaphysics! ;) )  the
latter may well be a maximalist reason for getting a phone - the necessary
cause for using the mobile, the way of enabling the maximal amount of
relationships/ communicability. perhaps. i have wanted to research the link
between the reasons ppl get phones and the reasons they use phones, to get some
qualitative data to back up the quantitative data, but its not happened as yet
:( .

> I'd love to see some research on the income distribution of mobile
> phone owners.  My (very subjective) impression is that, in the UK,
> they're almost exclusively middle-class, i.e. the same people who shop
> at the Gap (which is likely to be right next door to a Vodafone shop).

ive got some data for ownership of phones by household income in australia
up until 1998 (ie. when the mobile was no longer a niche but not yet a
mass market technology). for households earning <$9000/yr, participation
rate was 9.4% (58000 households); $9k-$14k: 16% 
(103,000h); $14-$19k: 22.1% (138,000h); $19-27k: 33.5%
(195,000h); $27-35k: 41.2% (240,000h); $35-44k: 53.5%
(299,000h); $44-53k: 51.6% (267,000h); $53-66k: 65.3%
(384,000h); $66-84k: 68.5% (378,000h); >$84k: 79.4%; dont know or not
stated: 54% (533,000h). 

this is from the australian bureau of statistics. ive also gotbreakdowns by
family type and by capital city/non-cpital city; all indicate the same thing: a
class divide between users and non-users, but not one solely determined by
economic class location - its more of a cultural capital divide which im not
sure how this affects what we've been arguing... ;)


'one fears an indefinite future of pious bourgeois certitudes'
					 - jg ballard

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