There have been anecdotal stories about iPhone users making heavy use of the non-phone elements of the device, but now comes the first research to quantify it. iSuppli has just released a report that shows that talking doesn’t constitute the majority of iPhone users time.
iSuppli’s ConsumerTrak survey of U.S. residents showed that owners of the iPhone spent just 46.5 percent of their time making voice phone calls with an iPhone. Those figures are quite a change from traditional mobile users who iSuppli said use their phone for voice calls 71.7 percent of the time. (The survey didn’t break out smart phones versus less-featured mobile phones).
Greg Sheppard, chief development officer for iSuppli and author of the study, wasn’t surprised at the figures. “It’s more the fact that (iPhone respresents) a converging of all this technology on one device,” he told InternetNews.com. “That’s always been the holy grail [for consumer electronics], convergence devices, and Apple is coming closer than anyone.”
The iPhone is being used for other tasks that mobile phones can handle, but traditionally have not done very well. For example, iPhone users spent 12.1 percent time accessing the Internet compared with just 2.4 percent for all U.S. mobile phone users.
Thanks to its iPod heritage, iPhone owners spend 11.9 percent of their usage time listening to music or other audio, compared to just 2.5 percent for all mobile handset users.
There have been a number of attempts by rival cell phone makers to copy the iPhone, like the LG Voyager, but none have been able to match the overall iPhone package, said Sheppard.
“I think there’s people still attacking different aspects of the user interface, but I haven’t seen anybody holistically go after the cool features, it’s more just rifle shots here and there. It hasn’t been a bottom up approach to it yet,” he said.
What’s next for the iPhone?
Sheppard expects Apple to continue to roll out its iPhone worldwide and bring in more services, but it won’t ever be a free phone with service like the cheap models are. “People are going beyond just getting the free phones and thinking more about feature phones and what they can do with it,” he said.
Creative Strategies President Tim Bajarin said the iPhone is the next wave of mobile computing. “In many ways, you have to think about the iPhone the way John Doerr put it at the SDK launch, that in many ways this is the next PC platform,” he said. “There’s no question its primary purpose is still that it’s a phone. What people realize quickly is that it’s more than a phone, that it delivers so many other features.”
Bajarin believes the next generation of apps will drive the iPhone into businesses, but Sheppard thinks it will largely be a consumer and SMB-level phone that only a few “renegades” use and try to convince IT or management to adopt.