South Africans and their cellphones

Bonnie Tubbs
By Bonnie Tubbs, ITWeb telecoms editor.
Johannesburg, 26 Jul 2012

Local technology market research organisation World Wide Worx presented the findings from its annual mobility study, Mobility 2012, yesterday - 18 months on from its last report, Mobility 2011.

Backed by First National Bank (FNB), the project involved extensive research carried out via face-to-face interviews with over 1 200 South Africans, aged 16 and above, across both urban and rural milieus, during May and June 2012.

Comprising two reports - The Mobile Consumer in SA and The Mobile Internet in SA - the study covers the gamut of mobile issues, including consumers' cellphone accounts and choice of network operators, cellphone banking, mobile money, social media platforms and uptake of device brands.

Twelve trends

Of those surveyed:

1. Most South Africans still use text-based services to do their cellphone banking, but more than a third of those who do also use phone browsers to do banking.

2. The most popular cellphone banking transaction that South Africans carry out is the purchase of airtime, with 74% of customers using the platform for this function. Only 5% of cellphone bankers use phone browsers alone for the purpose.

3. The second most popular cellphone banking transaction is the transfer of airtime - with 69% of rural users and 51% of urban users using their phone to this end.

4. Eighty percent of urban and 94% of rural South Africans have prepaid accounts.

5. The average phone spend of contract users is R387 per month, but rural users spend less than half that - R165 a month on average.

6. There has been a 13% total increase in those using mobile and retail money services ‑ from 18%, in Mobility 2011, to 31%, in Mobility 2012.

7. SA's two leading cellphone operators (Vodacom and MTN) now have an equal portion of the lion's share when it comes to their stake in the consumer market (42%), while rising competitor Cell C has 15%. Virgin Mobile SA and Telkom's mobile arm, 8ta, only really feature as secondary accounts.

8. South African cellphone users are divided rather disproportionally, between its 84% prepaid, 9% contract top-up (up from 5% in 2010) and 7% post-paid contract base.

9. The South African user experience of handsets and network improved across the board by an average of 5% in the last 18 months.

10. Rural cellphone users keep their handsets longer, with 46% or them saying they do not plan on getting a new phone - as opposed to the 37% of urban users who said the same. About 34% of rural users keep their handsets for over two years, compared to 24% of urban users.

11. In general, people now have their current phones for longer and are leaving longer gaps between the time they intend on getting a new one. Only 11% of those interviewed in the latest study said they were thinking of getting a new phone in the next six months, compared to 23% in 2010.

12. Fifty-nine percent of South Africans have access to the Internet in some way. Twenty-seven percent access the online world on their cellphones, 5% on their PC, laptop or tablet, and 27% on both.