January 2, 2012

Mobile – Are consumers choosing device over network?

What are the deciding factors when choosing mobile carriers? Is it “unlimited” data plan prices and speeds? Is it coverage and reliability of the network? Or is it what cool and up-to-date devices that are available? The prerequisites that consumers look for have changed over the years along with the ever shifting technology.


Smartphone Mobile Device
(Mobile consumers nowadays are gadgetheads)


About 7 or 8 years ago, when more and more people were getting cell phones, network reliability was more of a deciding factor. Since the cell phone market was still growing, there were still quite a few areas of the country where you 1) couldn’t get a strong signal; 2) got “roaming” coverage; or 3) no service at all. Phones at that time were not as competitive as they are now, hell you were happy to get a cell phone that fit in your pocket (remember the “Zak Morris” phones? a la Saved by the Bell). So most people were concerned with making sure they got the best coverage and weren’t screwed with outrageous rates in the “roaming” coverage.


(Ahh.. the memories)

When all that settled down, the next area of interest was how many minutes / text messages was included in the plan. Consumers wanted more bang for the buck. Rollover minutes, unlimited text messages, unlimited talk.. it was all about people enjoying mobile communication. Although the phone technology started to get better at this point (wow a color screen and play actual music!), people wanted to enjoy the increased communication. After all, what use is the phone when you don’t have enough minutes / text messages to use it?

In 2011, it’s all about the device. Coverage amongst the carriers in the United States is not so much of an issue. While it may be true that some carriers may provider more coverage than the other or some may be more reliable in terms of “dropped calls”, it has become less of a factor. Sure I may not get reception while I’m trying to browse my RSS feeds in the depths of a Super Walmart (I’ve already read all my offline articles!) , but at those times, I just join real life. Anyway, it’s sometimes dangerous to walk and look at your phone.

Link: Girl falls in mall fountain while texting

How people use their phones in today’s world could be the reason why it is this way. Consumers are using the phone less for talking and more for looking up the nearest restaurants, buying tickets for movies and reading their RSS feeds. Usage has increasingly become more of a mobile computer rather than a mobile phone.

Now that people know that they can enjoy mobile communication with relative ease on their pockets, they can focus their attention to the specs of the devices. How fast is it? Is it dual core? Is it Android or iPhone? How’s the camera? (Because I want to take really cute / stupid cat photos)  For some people, getting the newest cool “hip” phone is worth waiting in line for days before a new release, just so that they can get it before everyone else. And money is no object when it comes to phones, although it is humorous when people happily spend several hundred dollars on a phone but complain about paying 5 bucks for an app.

This is Angry Birds
(WWLD? What Would Leonidas Do?)

GigaOM has a pretty good article concerning this topic. (Link: “Shifting mobile choices: device first, network second”)  Personally, I myself had recently switched to a carrier just because they had a phone I wanted.

How about you? Have you switched carriers just for a phone? Or do the plan rates and coverage area concern you more? Maybe there are other factors.. share your thoughts!


  1. Aspen says:

    Heck of a job there, it absotluely helps me out.


  1. [...] On an earlier post, it was suggested that consumers are focusing at other factors, such as what phones are available, when deciding which mobile carrier to go with. This is not saying that other factors, like network coverage, are not being considered. This is especially apparent when choosing a regional cell carrier. [...]

  2. [...] Thank you IBM for 30 years of PCs IBM released a personal computer model that broke the mold and was used as a template for successful computer manufactures to come. [...]

Speak Your Mind