Is Talking on mobile phones a dying activity?

05 Jan 2010|Leigh Marinner

Japan has been a leading edge adopter of mobile phone activities for the past decade, in large part based on its early i-mode platform for mobile-internet services and fast cellular networks. Now they are talking on their phones less and using mobile data services (e.g. texting) more. The Economist reports that in 2002 the average Japanese mobile user spoke on it for 181 minutes each month, about the global norm. By early 2009 that had fallen to 133 minutes, half the world average. Whereas worldwide in early 2000 an average user spoke for 174 minutes a month, and by early 2009 that had risen to 261 minutes.

Are the Japanese the canary in the coal mine? There are reasons that the Japanese talk less on mobile phones, one being the strict cultural morays against talking in public places including commuter trains. But the Germans also talk less than Americans, only 89 minutes per month, although perhaps this is because of cheaper land lines and overtaxed mobile networks.

Americans talk an average of 788 minutes per month, almost 10x the Germans and 6x the Japanese. Will we see talking replaced by messaging, as phone bills increase, public annoyance with loud public talking increases, networks become overloaded resulting in dropped calls, and more questions can be answered more easily by social network and internet queries?

prev next