Australians are rapidly embracing mobile applications and mobile data services, a survey by AIMIA has claimed.

The independent 2010 Australian mobile phone lifestyle index (AMPLI), now in its sixth year, sampled almost 4000 Australians, ranging from ages 9 – 79 years, with an average age of 38.

“This year’s AMPLI survey reveals the extent to which Australians are using mobile applications and that many are willing to pay for them,” said John Butterworth, CEO of AIMIA. “Now that almost half of Australians have data included in their payment plans and the smartphone has become mainstream, this trend will continue and we’ll see more opportunity for application developers.”

Dr Marisa Maio Mackay, research consultant for the Mnet Group and director of Complete the Picture Consulting said, “Also exciting for the industry is the new wave of consumers of mobile data services that have come on board. The findings revealed that the base percentage of people using mobile data services continues to grow. This new wave of ‘beginner’ users is just starting out by trialing one or two services, but there is little doubt that many of them will quickly embrace the use of mobile services and applications in their day-to-day lives.”

Key findings

• Mobile data usage grows

• Mobile applications downloaded by 41% of respondents

• Over half of application users have paid for applications

• Consumption of information services rises

• Use of mobile commerce continues to steadily increase
, and

• Nokia most popular handset followed by Apple.

Types of applications downloaded:
 • 82% had downloaded and installed games
 • 73% had downloaded and installed maps and navigation
 • 70% had downloaded and installed news and weather
 • 61% had downloaded and installed instant messaging and social networking
 • 56% had downloaded and installed photos
 • 54% had downloaded and installed search (e.g. Yellow Pages)

Paid Versus Free Applications: 
Of those who had downloaded and installed an application in the last six months, 52 per cent stated they had paid money to do so, with games being the most paid for applications.

The types of applications these respondents paid for included:
 • Games, 84%
 • Maps and navigation, 22% 
• News and weather, 19%
 • Photos, videos and movies, 16% 
• Books, 15%

Handset breakdown: The proportion of respondents who own a Nokia or Motorola handset has declined over the last few years, while those owning an Apple handset has increased. The top handset brands of respondents this year were Nokia (41%), Apple (21%), Samsung (12%), Sony Ericsson (9%), LG (6%), Motorola (3%) and Blackberry (3%).

Males were more likely to own an Apple iPhone, Blackberry or HTC and less likely to own a Samsung, LG or Motorola.

67% of respondents stated they had a 3G or 3.5G mobile phone, which is slightly up from last year (60%) and a substantial increase from AMPLI Survey 4 (25%).

Increased use of services 
The proportion of respondents using their mobile phones to access information has been steadily increasing since the second AMPLI survey was carried out in 2006. This year’s report shows an overall increase in the proportion of respondents who used an entertainment and/or information service in the last 12 months: up from 71 per cent in 2009 to 85 per cent in 2010. Over half of the respondents (55%) had used or visited an information service in the last 12 months, compared to 48 per cent last year.

Respondents are also using a much greater range of information services. The proportion of respondents reporting use of news, weather, sports and entertainment news declined marginally compared to the previous survey, but the use of other services continued to increase. This is most likely a reflection of the increasing range of services that have become available to mobile phone users in the last two years, coupled with improved handset usability and pricing plans.

Use of Information Services
 Overall use of information services in the last 12 months as a percentage of all survey respondents: 
• 45% accessed weather, compared to 46% last year
 • 42% accessed news, compared to 44% last year
 • 41% accessed maps/location/traffic information, compared to 35% last year
 • 31% accessed sports, same as last year
 • 30% accessed movie information, compared to 28% last year
 • 27% accessed restaurant or café information, compared to 24% last year 
• 26% accessed entertainment/celebrity news, compared to 28% last year 
• 25% accessed event listings, compared to 22% last year 
• 22% accessed financial information, compared to 20% last year 
• 21% accessed TV guides, compared to 20% last year

Dr Marisa Maio Mackay explains, “The increased use of information services was the primary driver of the overall growth in mobile service use. Given the uptake of smartphones this is not surprising and reflects the maturing of the mobile space in Australia.”

Steady increase in the use of mobile commerce

• 24% of respondents used their mobile phone for banking at least on a monthly basis, compared to 19% last year

• 17% of respondents used their mobile phone to make payments at least on a monthly basis, compared to 12% last year

• 12% of respondents used their mobile phone to buy things for their mobile phone at least on a monthly basis, compared to 10% last year, and

• 9% of respondents used their mobile phone to buy things not for their mobile phone, at least on a monthly basis, compared to 8% last year.