The Number 4 Gives You Some Street Cred

Wireless carriers have been talking a lot about 4G lately – fastest, LTE, best network, largest 4G network, – but what does it all mean?  Our clients are certainly asking us how this weighs into a consumer’s decision when picking out a new mobile phone.  So, we decided to ask consumers a few questions to see just how savvy they are about this new technology.

Short answer: Not very!

For a bit of a longer answer, let’s look at this question first from the viewpoint of what consumers believe about current smartphones and their Operating Systems.

Breaking out the current US smartphone landscape, we currently have 4 major players in the Operating System space:  Android, Blackberry, iPhone, and Windows Phone. We asked consumers to associate a single OS to a number of different statements regarding phones.  Some of the results are not surprising at all, while a few of them certainly had me scratching my head.  (For simplicity, I’ve only included the responses for Operating Systems that received 10% or more of the responses.)

Q:  Which one operating system would you associate with each of the following statements? (Asked of wireless device owners, August 2011, n=1315) (There is a 46%/54% for Smartphone/Cell Phone owners)

Statement #1:  “Coolest Mobile Phones”

  • 44% said Apple iPhone
  • 37% said Android
  • Other interesting findings: 95% of iPhone owners selected iPhone, but only 73% of Android owners selected Android
  • Verdict:  NOT surprising that these 2 are in the front of the pack and Blackberry and Windows Phone barely show up in the ‘cool factor’


Statement #2:  “Mobile Phones are Easiest to use”

  • 41% said Apple iPhone
  • 30% said Android
  • 10% said Windows
  • Other interesting findings:  Non-Smartphone owners have a different perspective – 42% responded Apple iPhone, only 21% responded Android, and 14% responded Windows Phone
  • Verdict:  NOT surprising


Statement #3:  “Most Polished User Experience”

  • 44% said Apple iPhone
  • 31% said Android
  • 12% said RIM / Blackberry
  • Verdict:  NOT surprising


Statement #4:  “Most 4G Capable devices”

  • 36% said Apple iPhone
  • 46% said Android


Just to set the record straight – the iPhone 4 does NOT have 4G technology! The first thing that I’ve learned: consumers do not understand which devices offer them the 4G experience, and just sticking the number 4 into a device name will give you lots of street cred!

So, we’ve seen that consumers don’t really understand what platforms are offering 4G devices – but does it really matter, or is the buzz word enough to get consumers excited?

To the current Smartphone Owners in our survey we asked:

When shopping for a smartphone, which of the following features, if any, are a “must have” for you? (August 2011, n=535)

  • 33% said that ‘access to a 4G network’ is a must have


So, while clearly there is a lot of confusion out there, there is also a lot of interest.  So, the carrier that can best explain why 4G matters and what 4G means to the everyday smartphone user may do the best job of converting people to its lightning fast service and network.  Good luck!

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  1. M. Edward (Ed) Borasky

    I have a Verizon Droid Incredible (3G). If you had asked me those questions my answers would have been:

    1. Verizon iPhone
    2. HTC Sense, which is the interface I have
    3. iPhone
    4. Android

    What feature is a must-have? To be honest, I am due for an upgrade in late December and I’m probably going to drop back to a feature phone. I simply can’t justify the cost of the data plan at Verizon’s exorbitant bandwidth prices, and nobody else has the coverage I need in the USA.