|Americans slow to take advantage of smart phone capabilities|
Smart phones can perform countless functions, but how many people take advantage of the time-saving and paper-saving capabilities that are offered? According to a recent Harris Poll, very few are taking advantage, at least so far.
This year the United States celebrates the 150th anniversary of its paper money. With that in mind, the Harris Poll sought to learn when, if ever, people think that information stored on mobile phones will eclipse cash payments for a majority of purchases. While very few people think that will happen within the next year (3%), over one in ten (13%) think it will happen within one to three years and 18% think it will happen between three and five years. Continuing, one in five (21%) say it will happen in five to less than ten years and 15% say it will happen in ten years or more. Finally, 30% say it will never happen. There are only slight differences in opinion by age, although women think that this will happen in less than three years significantly more than men do (20% versus 13%). Men, on the other hand, are more likely to say it will happen in ten years or more (17% versus 12%).
These are some of the results of a poll 2,056 adults surveyed online between Feb. 6-13, by Harris Interactive. Smart phones today can store information to make our lives more efficient—information that can be scanned to make a purchase, or displayed as a ticket for admission, allowing us freedom from printed confirmations or carrying bulky wallets. However, when asked about a list of items that one could scan their mobile or smart phone for, only small minorities report having done so in each case.
This suggests that at the moment technology capabilities outpace behavior. There are many new functions available that most people either haven't tried or admit to being uncomfortable with. This presents an interesting conundrum—it seems people like having the latest in technology, as the wait lists and lines for newly released products indicate, yet beyond early adopters, many people don't take advantage of the new functions available to them. As some of this technology becomes more commonplace, it will be interesting to see how Americans begin to incorporate it into their lives.
Further details and other findings of the poll include:
• Only 5% of Americans say that they have scanned their phone for admission to a movie or as an airline ticket, and fewer say they have done so to pay for clothing or electronics (3%), admission to a concert, live theater or performance (3%), to pay for a convenience item such as coffee (3%) or something else (7%).
• Two in five say they have never scanned their mobile or smart phone for any reason (40%) and slightly more say they do not have a mobile or smart phone with this capability (45%). Although Echo Boomers, aged 18-35, are most likely to have scanned their phone for all of the items listed, even they are not doing this at remarkable rates (between 5% and 10% for each item).
• While few may be actively engaging with these functions, there is also a divide on the levels of comfort associated with these behaviors as well. Just under half of Americans (47%) say they are comfortable using a mobile scan as an admission ticket to movies, concerts, or live theater performances, while 38% are not comfortable with it—with 25% not at all comfortable; 15% are not sure. About the same number of people are comfortable (41%) and not comfortable (43%) using a mobile scan as an airline, train, or other transportation ticket; 15% are again, not sure.
• Slightly fewer are comfortable using a mobile app that would allow them to make purchases at a retailer or company as they would with a gift card (39%) while 47% are not comfortable with this and 14% are not sure. The only item where a majority opinion is seen, is with using a mobile app that would store credit card information, allowing people to make purchases at a retailer or company as they would with a credit card; 63% are not comfortable with this with over two in five (45%) not at all comfortable. Only one quarter (24%) of Americans are comfortable with this, and 13% are not sure.
Looking at those who are comfortable with the various items, several noticeable trends emerge:
• There is comfort in youth—younger adults are more comfortable than those older with each item listed.
• Men are more comfortable with each item than are women.
• Those who have scanned their smart phone for any one of a number of reasons are more comfortable with each capability than are those who have never scanned their phone, or do not have a phone with that technology.
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[This article was posted on March 20, 2012, on the website of ABA Banking Journal, www.ababj.com.]
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