Less than half of smartphone owners actually use their handsets for calling, pointing to the evolving role of the devices as they become increasingly powerful tools in everyday life.
Phone calls are apparently “too time-consuming or intrusive,” according to survey respondents, with nine out of ten people preferring texting. Half of the respondents had negative feelings toward calling and voicemail, with attitudes ranging from finding calls too intrusive to outright hatred of voicemail.
Texting, emailing and chatting on social networks are instead the three top smartphone activities of choice, according to a survey by social communications company CloudTalk, which released its results today. Phone calls took fourth place in top mobile activities, followed by browsing the Internet.
“What we’re seeing at CloudTalk is that people love to talk, as long as it doesn’t require our immediate attention,” said CloudTalk CEO David Hayden. “We can respond on our own time and see the entire conversation thread at a glance — it’s just more convenient.”
The shift away from voice communication on mobile devices comes as phones become increasingly sophisticated, with robust processors, bigger touch screens and access to a wealth of apps and other capabilities. As phones turn into mini-computers, Internet and other data-based usages will likely increase on smartphones, especially as carriers bolster their high-speed networks.
With smartphone buying increasing with consumers, media streaming and cloud-based services will likely take off, with a crop of music and video services springing up to take advantage. Apple’s iCloud, Amazon’s Cloud Player, Google’s Music, Sony’s Music Unlimited, Sprint’s Music Plus and other services like Spotify aim to allow users to stream music and other media across connected devices, including phones.
Fox Studios also recently became the first movie studio to allow mobile phone movie sideloading, bundling digital downloads for Android phones with certain Blu-Ray film releases such as “X-Men: First Class.” Services like Netflix continue to roll out apps for mobile devices as well.
As these and other add-ons become prevalent, media streaming may soon join the list of most popular smartphone activities in the future, boding well for carriers’ profits on tiered data plans.
Gaming, too, will likely grow as a central smartphone activity, with smartphone systems like Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android expanding as game platforms. Research firm Zokem found more than half of smartphone users play games at least once a month, according to its survey, released in May.
But growing data capabilities of smartphones will increase the burden on wireless networks, which may degrade mobile performance across networks in the long-term. Carriers are just beginning to address the spectrum crunch for the future, using spectrum shortage as a reason for the pending AT&T/T-Mobile merger, for instance. But the industry may have to take bigger measures as the airwaves buzz with heavier demands on more powerful handsets.
Texting, email and chat may remain the central activities of mobile handsets, but consumers will likely add more to the roster, especially as phones grow more powerful and central in customers’ everyday lives.