Data coverage now ahead of voice coverage as reason to change carrier

Nearly seven out of eight U.S. smartphone owners care more about smoothness and less buffering time on a standard definition video than they do about high definition pixel quality while watching mobile video over a poor connection, according to newly-released results from a survey conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Skyfire. This new research shows the importance of network data quality, speed of delivery, and smooth multimedia playback for smartphone users.



Nearly seven out of eight U.S. smartphone owners care more about smoothness and less buffering time on a standard definition video than they do about high definition pixel quality while watching mobile video over a poor connection, according to newly-released results from a survey conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Skyfire. This new research shows the importance of network data quality, speed of delivery, and smooth multimedia playback for smartphone users.


The survey was conducted among over 900 U.S. and 1,000 British smartphone owners.  Based on the survey results, mobile video is being consumed by a majority of American smartphone users, with well over half (57%) of American smartphone owners reporting that they’ve watched a video on their smartphone in the last month. This is in comparison to Great Britain, where only 29% of British smartphone owners have watched a video on their smartphone in the last month.


Overall, however, both U.S. and British smartphone users (86% and 87%, respectively) indicate in great numbers that when their mobile connection is poor, they care more about seeing a standard definition video which plays smoothly than seeing a high definition video with slow starts, stuttering and re-buffering.


The survey also found that U.S. smartphone owners age 18-34 are most likely to indicate that they have watched mobile video in the last month (76%), significantly so when compared to those age 35-44 (58%), those age 45-54 (52%) and those age 55+ (24%). The youngest generation surveyed is just as likely to watch mobile video as the oldest generation is not, says Skyfire (Mountain View, Calif., USA).


U.S. men are more likely than women to have watched a video on their smartphone in the past month (62% vs. 52%). American young males (age 18-34) are most likely to have done this, with 84% having watched a video on their smartphone in the last month, according to the survey.


Those from U.S. households with income under $35k are more likely (66%) to have watched a video on their smartphones in the past month than households with incomes $75k or more (just 54%). With video consumption being a major culprit behind “bill shock”, this also means that those with less income are more likely to be charged overage fees, says Skyfire.


Other than price (49%), the biggest reason cited by US smartphone owners who have switched mobile carriers in the past year was to seek better data coverage and download speeds (40% cited this reason). Mobile data coverage is now ahead of voice coverage (25%) and smartphone device selection (26%) as a reason to change carrier. 


“We’re seeing a sea change in the way consumers are using and thinking about their mobile devices, with higher quality content becoming the norm,” says Skyfire CEO Jeffrey Glueck. “This survey shows clearly that when connections are poor, users define a quality experience much more by fast video starts and smooth play, rather than HD fidelity in their video. Moreover, other than price, better data speeds now beat voice coverage and device selection as the most important factor when switching carriers. ‘Can you watch me now?’ is the new ‘Can you hear me now?'”


This survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Skyfire both within the United States via its QuickQuery product from May 31-June 4, 2012 among 2,209 adults ages 18 and older (among whom 941 are smartphone owners) and in Great Britain via its Global Omnibus product from May 29-June 6 2012 among 2,092 adults age 16-64 (among whom 1,086 are smartphone owners).