Your Smart Phone Is Not For Entertainment

Your Smart Phone Is Not For Entertainment

Smart phones are proving increasingly popular — around 36% of Australians now own one. But while we’ve rapidly embraced them for on-the-go Internet searching and email checking, their use as an entertainment device is still somewhat restricted.

Telstra today released its Smart Phone Index, which was based on a survey of 2,800 adults across the country. As well as demographic information (people in urban areas are unsurprisingly much more likely to own a smart phone than rural users), the study provides some insights into what we use our Internet-equipped mobile phones for.

The chart above (which you can click for a larger version) shows the most common activities carried out on mobile phones, rated in order of popularity. The light blue bar represents people who have tried that activity on their phone; the dark blue represents regular users, who perform those tasks at least weekly.

It’s no great surprise that online searching, checking email and looking up news and weather top the charts. What’s perhaps more notable is how relatively low many entertainment activities rank, especially in terms of regular usage. Just 11% of people regularly use their phone for mobile TV, and only 24% regularly use their phones for streaming clips. Even music downloading — an obvious task given how many phones double as players — is a common activity for just 18%.

A likely explanation for all that is the relatively poor performance of most Australian data networks (and the relatively expensive data even when the networks do work). Network reliability also appears to be an issue even with less intensive applications such as buying tickets, which only 24% of those surveyed have tried and only 8% do regularly. Either we don’t trust sending our details via the phone, or we’ve spent so long reloading ticketing sites for big events we have no faith in our phone to get the job done.

Because the study focused on Internet-related entertainment, it doesn’t cover what are obviously two of the most popular entertainment uses for smart phones: playing games and watching video content that’s been copied onto the phone from elsewhere. The upside of those choices is no data charges, and the ability to use them even if there’s no signal. The downside is the need to be organised and have that content on your phone in the first place.

What are your favourite entertainment options on your smart phone? Tell us in the comments.

Lifehacker’s weekly Streaming column looks at how technology is keeping us entertained.


  • I would imagine data pricing/reception is the biggest reason most people don’t stream/download entertainment. No point watching a streaming video if it buffers all the time. No point watching streaming video if it eats all your data.

    That nice song on iTunes cost me $2.19 + 5MB(=~32c)= $2.51 total.
    The 32c data cost came from Telstra’s data pricing – $10/150MB.

    Data based services (radio, tv, music and movies) with a quoted access service (ie, EVERY ISP in australia*) = constraint on the digital economy.

    Since we do not have a Network Neutrality in this country along with its Nanny State nature – Government should make legislation demanding that typical services such as TV and radio should not go towards a user quota. Even wireless services should be included in said legislation.

    *-terabyte plans and unlimited plans (with a Fair Use Policy) are still quoted sevices in my mind.

  • My android equipment is great, my data provider -Telstra in this case – is bloody awful and then charges absurd rates for its second rate service.

    The cost of mobile data in Oz is surely unjustifiable, is suppressing usage and uptake and creating a flow through effect in suppressing growth in the industry and money generated.

    Mostly I just wait to get to a decent WiFi source.

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