sean aylward smith on 16 Nov 2000 03:13:52 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> cell/mobile phones

> On Tue, Nov 14, 2000 at 12:15:19PM +1000, sean aylward smith wrote:
> > all the research on _why_ young women are taking up mobile phones
> > indicates the single most important reason for their adoption of
> > mobiles is security, not to call their friends.
> Clearly the respondents in such studies are lying.  You can't expect
> people to admit to wanting to enhance their image, not even on a
> questionnaire that maintains their anonymity.  The idea of security is

hmm, i have a real problem with disbelieving ppl when they say they're
doing something for some reason - strikes of vangardism to
me. nevertheles, there are other than political reasons for believing
these surveys. they're generally collated by mobile handset retailers when
purchases are made, to better be able to sell more mobiles in the near
future (and tangentially, given the massive uptake of mobiles, you'd
suggest their marketing strategies are pretty accurate, hence the survey
data they're basing their strategies on must similarly be...). this data,
which is remarkably consistent across operators, indicates that there are
two distinct 'groups' buying phones for young ppl/ 'young women' (however
we choose to define this...).

these two sectors are determined primarily by economic necessity (isnt it
almost always the way?): the primary way phones are sold in autralia at
the moment is thru a leas-like system, in which the user signs a contract
for a specified period of time, without having to pay upfront for the
mobile; the high price of which is amortized (?) over the period of the
lease/contract. cos its a lease, ya need a credit rating to get one, hence
most young ppl arnt eligible.. hence their parents are the actual
'customer' as far as the operator is concerned. these parents, when asked
as they are, overwhelmingly state 'security' as the main reason for
getting their child a phone.

the second way involves what is known as the 'training phone' or 'kiddie
phone', in which ya pay a sum upfront to buy the handset and some airtime,
and can buy additional airtime when it runs out. there's not credit
provision here, so ppl without credit record can get one easily (the
operators defray any potential financial risk thru the cheap-ish provision
of handsets thru extremely high call rates). and ppl without credit
records, mostly young ppl, are gettin em in vast numbers - such tht this
method is expected to be the dominant method for getting a mobile in
australia in the next 12-18 months. and _these_ customers, when polled,
_also_ overwhelmingly cite 'seurity' as the main reason for getting a

part of the issue might be, that there is a vast difference between why
ppl _get_ a phone and why they _use_ it: the former is a sort of
minimalist reason for using a mobile: a sufficient cause for getting it
but not using it, a way of establishing a minimal amount of connection and
communicability with ppl/ a minimal enabling of relationships (and of the
relationships that define humans as humans, id add, but we probably
shuoldnt divert into metaphysics! ;) )  the latter may well be a
maximalist reason for getting a phone - the necessary cause for using the
mobile, the way of enabling the maximal amount of relationships/
communicability. perhaps. i have wanted to research the link between the
reasons ppl get phones and the reasons they use phones, to get some
qualitative data to back up the quantitative data, but its not happened as
yet :( .

> I'd love to see some research on the income distribution of mobile
> phone owners.  My (very subjective) impression is that, in the UK,
> they're almost exclusively middle-class, i.e. the same people who shop
> at the Gap (which is likely to be right next door to a Vodafone shop).

ive got some data for ownership of phones by household income in australia
up until 1998 (ie. when the mobile was no longer a niche but not yet a
mass market technology). for households earning <$9000/yr, participation
rate was 9.4% (58000 households); $9k-$14k: 16% 
(103,000h); $14-$19k: 22.1% (138,000h); $19-27k: 33.5%
(195,000h); $27-35k: 41.2% (240,000h); $35-44k: 53.5%
(299,000h); $44-53k: 51.6% (267,000h); $53-66k: 65.3%
(384,000h); $66-84k: 68.5% (378,000h); >$84k: 79.4%; dont know or not
stated: 54% (533,000h). 

this is from the australian bureau of statistics. ive also gotbreakdowns
by family type and by capital city/non-cpital city; all indicate the same
thing: a class divide between users and non-users, but not one solely
determined by economic class location - its more of a cultural capital
divide which im not sure how this affects what we've been arguing... ;)


'one fears an indefinite future of pious bourgeois certitudes'
					 - jg ballard

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