Apr 09

When will you replace your mobile devices – first analyses

On March 15th this blog explored the issue of  the mobile metric that most mobile phone carriers, and mobile device manufacturers, are reluctant to face — namely when will mobile device owners replace their mobile devices.  On March 25th we initiated an online  survey to find out more.  From analysis of the first responses there are both obvious and rather less obvious conclusions (to participate and add additional input, please go here).  What is clear is that, while mobile phones are still relatively regularly replaced (often in less than 12 months), tablets and laptops have much longer and more irregular replacement cycles; furthermore dedicated eReaders and iPods/MP3 players seem destined not to enjoy direct replacement (with their functions migrating to either tablets or smartphones.

Respondents were asked about:

  • 5 categories of mobile device — mobile phones, tablets, iPods/MP3 players, eReaders and laptops
  • their age (arbitrarily divided into either <30 or >30 years old)
  • device information for 3 devices in each category — as well as well how long they had acquired or owned each device
  • when they expected or planned to replace each device (with the options being:
    1) within 6 months
    2) 6-12 months
    3) 12-24 months
    4) 24-36 months
    5) 36-48 months
    6) “will not replace”).

The following results form part of what will likely be ongoing analyses as additional information is gathered and as different patterns or conclusions evolve.

First, some simple initial facts taken fro the first 25 respondents:

  • 75% were over 30 and 25% under 30
  • all had at least one smartphone
  • the average number of devices per respondent was almost 5 devices
  • the total age in months over all devices was 2769 months, giving an average age of 22.9 months per device
  • the maximum number of devices was 10 (out of a maximum of 15) for one individual and the minimum was 3
  • only one respondent did not have a laptop.

For mobile phones:

  • the dominant device is the iPhone, with a decent selection of Android devices and very few Windows Mobile or Blackberry devices (< 3 each)
  • almost all (>98%) are smartphones
  • the average age of smartphones (the ‘youngest’ category) was 18.4 months
  • the anticipated distribution of timeframes for replacement is as follows…


For tablets:

  • only 4 respondents did not have at least one tablet
  • the dominant device is the iPad (across all models), with a sprinkling of Android devices, only two Windows 8 devices and no Blackberry ones
  • the average age was 15.3 months
  • the anticipated distribution of timeframes for replacement is as follows…


For iPod/MP3 players

  • the only device listed is the iPod (all models)
  • only 45% of respondents had iPods (some commented they were now using their smartphones as their iPod/MP3 player replacements)
  • the average age was 37.8 months
  • over 60% said they would not be replacing their iPods.

For (dedicated) eReaders:

  • the dominant device is the Kindle (various types), with Sony eReader as the solitary exception
  • the average age was 31.3 months
  • 75% of respondents said they planning  not to replace their dedicated eReaders

For laptops

  • there was no dominant OS (both Windows and OSX)
  • the average age of laptops was 27.3 months
  • 40% had a second laptop (only 8% had a third one)
  • the anticipated distribution of timeframes for replacement is as follows…


Some initial conclusions

Replacement of smartphones is to be expected most often.  In practice respondents indicated:

  • 45% would be replaced with 12 months
  • 68%  would be replaced within 24 months.

But this means that 32% of devices will be replaced in timeframes longer than 24 months.  The key for mobile phone replacement appears to remain telephone carrier plans.  If, as has already happened in some European countries (for example France and Spain), mobile phones are not locked and/or subsidised, then replacement timeframes may become substantially longer.

iPods/MP3 players as well as dedicated eReaders seem destined to disappear, at least as devices which people expect to replace.  For many, smartphones and/or tablets are becoming the logical replacement.

Tablets and laptops would appear to share similar replacement characteristics, and replacement is not as urgent as for mobile phones.  While tablets are definitely newer (than laptops) with an average age of 15.3 months (compared to 27.3 months for laptops), only 37% of tablets seem likely to be replaced within 24 months (for laptops the equivalent is 43%).   The conclusion here must be that, while the tablet category, is relatively new no-one should expect replacement cycles to be like those for smartphones;  in fact the laptop is probably the better analogy.

[If you would like to deepen the data, please contribute information about your devices  and replacement intentions at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PCNVHP5
Thank you.]

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