m.Net Corporation has released the Australian results of its 2008 Worldwide Mobile Data Service (MDS) Study, revealing growth in the number of Australians using their mobile phone for a wider range of products and services.

The study, conducted in November 2008, found that 97% Australians surveyed used their mobile phone for more than just voice.

Of the respondents 61% had used information type services in the last full month, 57% used entertainment services, 99% used communication services and 31% had used their mobile phone to make a purchase on things such as movie tickets.

The survey results also saw an increase in the take-up of mobile-based email, video, chat, financial information and social networking.

The m.Net Corporation defines MDS as ‘all the digital data services that you access through your mobile phone excluding voice calls’ and includes purchasing, communications, information and entertainment.

m.Net research director, Dr Marisa Maio Mackay, says that Australians are growing up when it come to being a mobile society.

“What we’re seeing is a greater reliance on mobile phones as the platform for a broad range of data services. Over half the survey group owned a 3G or 3.5G phone and over 70% said they used a service other than simple communications like texting or MMS. There’s also been a drop off in the use of ‘comfort services’ like ringtones and wallpapers, with Australians instead being much more willing to pay for access to mobile data, reflecting the increased value they place on these services,” explains Mackay.

The study also revealed that Australians lagged behind American mobile phone users in the intensity of their usage, with US respondents to the global study using a wider range of data services for much longer periods of time.

“Americans are far more intense and active users than Australians and have really embraced mobile data services in the past few years, partly thanks to ‘all you can use’ fixed pricing plans and the resolution of early network issues,” says Mackay.

Other key findings from the study include:

  • Those that visited a website increased from 41% in 2007 to 49% in 2008
  • Mobile Internet searches increased from 23% in 2007 to 30% in 2008
  • Take-up of mobile email grew from 26% in 2007 to 34% in 2008
  • 50% of those that used MDS in 2008 used mobile chat, a 120% hike from the previous year
  • Mobile access to financial data jumped 60% from 10% (2007) to 16% (2008)
  • Mobile access to social networking grew 50% from 10% to 15%
  • 33% used MDS for over 30 minutes per week, up by 120% from 15% in 2007
  • 64% of Australian respondents were willing to pay more than $10 per month for unlimited mobile data access, up from zero per cent the previous year
  • Australians are becoming more savvy in how they access mobile data, with the proportion of users who typed in a URL dropping from 54% in 2007 to 29% in 2008, and,
  • Australians are beginning to truly recognise and acknowledge how the use of the mobile phone can tie into their everyday lives: 41% of respondents were interested in mobile banking, 44% were interested in the ability to pay for things with their mobile phone and 31% of respondents were interested in using community sites.