The independent blind survey of 1,076 UK adult smartphone users and bill payers, carried out for Crossbeam by Opinion Matters, examined usage habits, the importance of mobile security and data services, purchasing considerations and what would motivate them to switch providers.
The survey revealed that 75.6 per cent of those surveyed would change mobile providers if their current, operator-supplied smartphone was compromised by hackers, malware or other security failure. Women were the more likely to switch on security grounds, with 79 per cent of 648 women surveyed stating they would change networks if their smartphone fell victim to a security issue. Meanwhile, 70 per cent of 428 men surveyed would also change networks following a security incident.
This stark finding contradicts current mobile network provider activity and investment priorities, with most aggressively focusing on building ever faster high-speed network infrastructure and attractive data plans, but less on shoring up their security infrastructure and offering value-added security services and protection to end users and their devices.
The survey found that in the event of a smartphone being hacked, it was access to their personal information, such as credit card numbers and passwords that users (53 per cent) were most worried about. Nearly 42 per cent were worried about losing their stored contacts and over a third (37 per cent) were worried about their private media (photos, videos, text messages etc) being accessed and copied.
An encouraging sign, over a third (35.7 per cent) of respondents were aware that their smartphone contained applications that stored or had access to financial information such as PayPal, retail apps with saved card payment information and mobile banking apps, and that third parties accessing these would be a concern.
While security is the main concern for mobile phone users in the current climate, with incidents such as voicemail and phone hacking by tabloid newspaper highlighting the potential frailties of basic mobile phone security measures, operational costs are also a great concern.
Some 63.7 per cent of respondents cited high monthly running costs as something that would drive them away from their current network provider, while only 9.4 per cent cited poor voice quality as a reason for leaving a network, illustrating the rapidly declining importance of voice telephony in day-to-day mobile phone use.
With so much focus of late on the small and often shrinking data allocations bundled with most smartphone plans, only 6.8 per cent of those surveyed cited data plans limits as a problem worth leaving over, with even fewer (6.3 per cent) concerned about slow download speeds, a particularly interesting admission just as operator EE has launched the UK’s first consumer 4G data service on the back of faster data rates.
Over half of those surveyed (57.2 per cent) never exceed their capped data plan, while an additional 15.7 per cent of respondents are on so-called “unlimited” with no formal restriction on how much data a user can consumer in a single billing period.