A report has concluded that a full 49 per cent of mobile phone users in Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Belgium are not interested in 3G services. The Harris Interactive survey - the results of which were published in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday - noted that this figure was highest in the UK, where although mobile operator 3 has been running a 3G service for months, 60 per cent of punters are indifferent.
When launched on a wide-scale basis in the next few months, 3G/UMTS services will allow for high-speed wireless data connections to mobile devices so that users can download files, surf the Internet, play games, make video calls and zap video and audio clips to friends and co-workers. The long-awaited technology is an important part of the future of the mobile phone business, expected to generate billions of euro globally in revenues from data services.
Yet, despite all of the possibilities of 3G, some 44 per cent of respondents in the Harris Interactive survey say they won't use their phones for much more than voice calls. Again, this figure was highest, at 54 per cent, in the UK.
Part of the resistance to the new service could be the result of a belief by 55 per cent of survey participants that 3G will be expensive to use.
Anther reason could involve a lack of understanding of the service, with 52 per cent of respondents claiming that the industry has completely failed to explain what 3G is all about and why it is worth having. However, there is a massive gulf with regard to 3G awareness, with 71 per cent of Spaniards saying operators have done little to educate consumers, compared to just 28 per cent of Belgians that believe this.
Other questions in the study relate to fears that 3G services may be unreliable, with 51 per cent of respondents saying an undependable service will damage an operator's reputation. Fifty-one per cent of the participants agreed that if 3G handset demand can't be met, the reputation of mobile network operators will be hurt.
The Harris Interactive Europe Poll was conducted online within the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Belgium between 27 February and 4 March 2004, among 10,581 adults, of whom 9,865 were determined to be mobile users.