Study: Australians More Digitally Mobile than Americans

15 03 2007

According to the latest figures from Forrester research, reported in one of Australia’s foremost periodicals, The Age, Australians are adopting mobile gadgets such as digital cameras, smart phones, and MP3 players far more enthusiastically than Americans:

The study found that 92% of Australian housholds owned some form of mobile electronic device, compared with just 76% in the USA.

“The disparity is even greater when it comes to digital still cameras – 69 per cent versus 51 per cent, respectively – and portable MP3 ownership – 33 per cent versus 20 per cent, respectively,” the study found.

This data correlates with my own ongoing comparisons between Australian and overseas mobile consumer markets, including the US market. I regularly buy a number of Australian and International periodicals, including the US Smartphone & PDA magazine, the UK edition of T3, and the Australian editions of T3, Roam (recently merged with T3) and Geare.

From my reading, I’ve noticed that while there’s a public perception that the US is a world leader in consumer technology, that lead is somewhat diminished in the mobile technology arena. For example, my perusal of the worldwide gadget mags makes me feel that many models of mobile phones are available in the UK and Australia well before they’re on the US market; and when they do come on to the market in the USA, many of the best mobile phone models are tied exclusively to a particular service provider. I haven’t noticed any such encumberances in the Australian mobile phone market, and I think it’s made for increased handset consumption and consumer interest here. Whatever the reason, Australia’s mobile phone stats are pretty amazing, as I recently documented:

According to the latest available market statistics, there are almost 20 million mobile phone subscriptions in Australia – or one for every man, woman and child in the country, representing near-saturation of the consumer market.

What does this near-saturation of the Australiam mobile phone market mean for m-learning in Australia? Well, for one thing, it is possible that there’s a greater imperative – and opportunity – for us to explore and implement m-learning strategies in Australia than for our American counterparts. It’s also possible that Australian organisations who are currently implementing m-learning strategies have an opportunity to lead the world in new and innovative learning strategies through m-learning.

Mind you, Australia is still a long way – perhaps three years – behind countries like Korea and Japan in terms of mobile consumer technology. I also keep tabs on these mobile technology powerhouses, with many of the technologies they already take for granted yet to emerge elsewhere – technologies with considerable potential to impact on social practices and educational strategies around the world, including in Australia.

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