Mobile Users Ready to Switch Providers

SAN FRANCISCO -- There was good news and bad news for mobile providers in a global survey released Wednesday at Oracle Open World conference.

Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) said the survey was designed to gain insight into what its customer's customers think of mobile devices, including their thoughts on pricing and new features. The company said most major telcos are Oracle clients, using either its enterprise database and software portfolio or systems -- thanks to Oracle's purchase of Sun Microsystems.

Well-publicized incidents and consumer complaints related to poor or inconsistent 3G coverage and reception abound, including the recent antenna-gate" controversy related to Apple's iPhone. But the majority of mobile customers (82 percent) in Oracle's survey said they believe their current service provider is doing a good job.

But that bit of good news for providers was well-tempered by other responses. For example, 77 percent said they'd be willing to switch to a provider with better pricing.

"There is no customer loyalty" among mobile customers, said Bhaskar Gorti, senior vice president and general manager of Oracle's global communications unit.

And the willingness to switch isn't limited to moving to traditional suppliers.

Eighty-three percent of those surveyed said they'd be willing to switch to a nontraditional supplier that offered similar pricing and quality. Highest on the list of suppliers the respondents said they'd switch to was Google at 51 percent, followed by Sony (48 percent), Apple (48 percent), and Facebook and American Express at 15 percent each.

A number of smartphone providers have moved to include easier access to social networks like Facebook and Twitter in their devices. Facebook recently denied a report published on technology site TechCrunch that it's developing its own branded smartphone.

Location and privacy

The survey results also showed users have concerns about privacy and that the industry has some work to do to drive greater adoption of mobile ecommerce and location-based services.

Again, the survey indicated most consumers are interested in deals that promise to save them money with 64 percent saying they'd be willing to listen or watch ads on their device in exchange for a 5 percent credit on their monthly bill.

But only 33 percent said they'd like to receive ads tied to their location. Most of those who said they didn't want to receive such ads said it was because of privacy concerns.

"Users are hesitant to trade privacy for localized content, though younger consumers in the survey were more open to it," said Gorti.

Also of note is the finding that 61 percent are willing to pay up to 7 percent more on their current bill for an unlimited data plan. Gorti said carriers need to come up with alternative data usage plans because "unlimited, all-you-can-eat usage is not a sustainable model."

When asked what they thought might replace their mobile phone five years from now, GPS, iPod or MP3 players and digital cameras top the list. Those top three answers were selected by just over 50 percent of those surveyed. Credit cards (31 percent), personal computers and video recorders (27 percent each) and car keys (24 percent) came next followed by eReaders and Personal ID cards at 22 and 18 percent respectively.

A majority (58 percent) said they were comfortable making a purchase with a mobile device, though only 22 percent said they were "very comfortable" and 39 percent "somewhat comfortable." A small minority (12 percent) said they were "not at all comfortable" using a mobile device to make purchases.

Gorti noted the results showed younger participants in the survey to be much more receptive to using their mobile device for purchases.

"Mobile payments security is important; there isn't any place in the world where users are willing to compromise on that," he said. "But it's already happening with rail passes in certain regions and other services. No one is saying buy a house with your mobile phone, but it can be used instead of carrying cash and if [mobile ecommerce] is done correctly can prevent a lot of fraud compared to credit cards."

Oracle's "Opportunity Calling:The Future of Mobile Communications" report is available herein PDF format.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


Oracle, security, mobile, iPhone, mobile ecommerce