Lynn Lim of the School of Business and Social Science at Roehampton University, London and Mei Wen Chou and T.C. Melewar of the Brunel Business School at Brunel University in Middlesex, point out that while mobile internet usage has transformed leisure and business activities in an unanticipated manner over the last five years, there are few studies that have looked at the core user group - the so-called "Thumb Generation" who use their thumbs to control portable devices such as mobiles are also members of Generation Y and aged between 13 and 30 years old.
The researchers point out that mobile phone ownership is high among the younger generation particularly in the 11 to 21 range and that within this group, familiarity with and reliance on the evolution of mobile communications technology is widespread. Whereas older adults grew up with fixed, landline telephones, for the Thumb Generation mobile phones have become ubiquitous.
"This pragmatic generation is media-saturated, tech savvy, more aware of marketing hype and uses high-tech products for communication, shopping, working, studying or playing," the researchers suggest.
The researchers set out to answer several question regarding mobile internet usage: What factors will affect usage? How will these factors relate to actual usage? How are users being socially influenced to increase usage? And finally, how can future technologies enhance mobile internet and related applications?
The team surveyed a group of Generate Y-ers and found that there is a positive relationship between usability and usage. Clearer, and bigger colour screens for instance, as well as faster download speeds encourage more mobile internet usage. They also found that early adopters and those more likely to have other modern gadgets inevitably use the mobile internet more and this can depend on social group and the attitudes of family and friends. "When people lead this trendy lifestyle, the use of new technologies, including mobile internet, just fits in," the researchers add.
However, it was their final finding, related to pricing, which is perhaps most surprising. They thought that users who consider the price of mobile internet to be too high and that they lacked control over spending were expected to curtail their usage. Their research rejects outright this hypothesis: Mobile internet usage among Generation Y-ers seems independent of price.
The team concedes that such a finding is perhaps not as surprising as one might think given the apparent attitudes of this age group. "The Generation Y-ers might be in a stage of their life where they care less about the price of certain things, as long as it allows them to live their life the way they want to," they conclude.
Albert Ang | alfa
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