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Add a dash of Wi-Fi and sprinkle with data services

How do you concoct the right mobile services mix?

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With such a range of potential options in terms of devices and functions, one could say we are spoilt for choice. Or is it a Hobson's choice – plenty of options, but none really cut the mustard?

When we asked you this question in our recent survey, the jury looked very much to be out, with responses equally spread across the board. When we took things down a level, however, some clear groupings became visible: notably, between the two groups of laptop lovers and PDA pundits.

Taking notebook users first, virtually all (95 per cent) specified some kind of need for mobile access. We can take that with a pinch of salt perhaps – those that weren't that interested may have been less inclined to fill in the survey (or perhaps they couldn't work out a way to get to it).

Of this proportion, however, about a quarter indicated they were quite happy with their cellular-only access, and a slightly smaller proportion said they were content for Wi-Fi connectivity from hotspots alone.

With barely a pause to note the implication – that high-speed cellular access is ahead of Wi-Fi in the stakes – it doesn't take a mathematician to surmise that the remainder, roughly half, see both cellular and Wi-Fi access as required elements in the ideal mobile package (mathematicians would surmise 48.45 per cent, for what it's worth).

Meanwhile, we have the handheld community. For this group the differences were even more pronounced – respondents requiring only one kind of access were less than 30 per cent, meaning that over two-thirds required some kind of combination of functions. Of these:

  • Sixteen per cent wanted to use data services on the handheld, and have Wi-Fi for their notebook,
  • Sixteen per cent wanted to use data services on the handheld, and have cellular access for their notebook,
  • Twenty-nine per cent wanted all three – handheld data and cellular/Wi-Fi on the notebook.

What this tells us is, while it is difficult to come up with a one size fits all, there's a clear desire to combine services into a single package. Equally, and as we have seen in the comments to previous articles in this series, is that mobile users fall into these two, very distinct camps.

This could be for reasons of "user provenance" – once a computer user, always a computer user and vice versa – or it could be down to usage scenarios. Perhaps road warriors, sales execs and service engineers only have minutes to grab those messages and move on, whereas roving project managers can afford a more sedentary existence.

We'll be picking this thread up in the coming weeks. ®

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