Recent consumer research in the UK has found that young people are surprisingly sceptical about some emerging technologies, especially in the mobile space.
It found that whilst 96 per cent of 15- to 24-year-olds now have a mobile phone, only six per cent have a 3G phone. What's more, 79 per cent neither own nor intend to own a 3G phone within the next 12 months.
The research was carried out by the ROAR consortium, which has four members: TV channel Channel Four, EMAP Advertising, the Guardian and Observer newspapers, and OMD UK. The group specialises in providing continuous research into the lives of 15- to 24-year-olds.
Young people, it concluded, had seen the success and failure of specific products but did not believe they had seen a major step forward that has worked in recent years. Three of the major technology releases of recent times - WAP, MMS and 3G - were launched before they could be used optimally, respondents said. "Everything is hyped and that makes it seem old, but nothing seems to work yet. You hear about it but can't do it properly," said one youngster.
The report found that there had been a 90 per cent increase year-on-year of young people who strongly disagree with the statement, "I'm usually the first to get new technology." This figure was up from nine per cent in 2002 to 19 per cent in 2003. Young people surveyed said that R&D departments, rather than introducing technology for its own sake, should focus on introducing technology products that solve a problem and make life easier. One example of a company getting it right, the survey found, was Apple, with the introduction of its iPod music player. Brands such as Sony and Nokia also emerged with favourable feedback from the survey.
The research poured some particularly cold water on 3G, with many respondents sceptical about the new services it promises to offer. Video calling received a lukewarm welcome, with some young people finding it an awkward experience compared to voice calls or text messaging. "My brother-in-law has 3 already, so I was video calling him, and it is funny we get on really well normally, but those calls felt a bit awkward," said one respondent.
The report concluded that most 15-year-olds to 24-year-olds felt that the ability to use the visual aspect of the video calling and messaging can be both unnecessary and unwelcome. They felt more pressurised to tell the truth and worried about their appearance. Part of the research involved issuing 3G handsets to a sample group. It found that while most 15-year-olds to 24-year-olds were initially impressed by some of the media content found on the 3 network, they tended to be less enamoured by the end of the trial.
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