|There has been little or no growth in the number of users of wireless Internet over the past year, according to Solomon-Wolff Associates, a New Jersey-based market research firm, specializing in personal communications issues.|
In Solomon-Wolff's latest study, conducted in January 2002, only six percent of Internet users report that they use Wireless Internet. This number has remained about the same across three consecutive semi-annual studies.
'Declines like this are not usually associated with rapidly growing products or services,' explains Ms. Joey Wolff, partner, Solomon-Wolff Associates. 'The declining interest level may be due to the perceived cost of wireless Internet. Although it is possible to obtain wireless Internet service for a low price, there is a perception of high prices. And the current subscribers of the service are paying more than three times the amount non-users are willing to spend.'
The Solomon-Wolff survey indicates that current wireless Internet users report that they spend an average of $30.33 per month for the service, while non-users who are interested in the service are only willing to spend an average of $9.44 per month.
According to Wolff, the stagnation of wireless Internet may also be due to the fact that it is a secondary business for major service providers. The leading companies providing wireless Internet service offer it in conjunction with other services, such as wireless telephone service. Of the five companies with the largest market shares of Wireless Internet users, four are wireless telephone companies -- Sprint, AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Cingular, and the other is an Internet company -- AOL. According to Wolff, these companies may be focusing marketing efforts on their primary business, not on wireless Internet.
'Is the lack of interest in wireless Internet due to the fact that it is seen as an e-mail service?' said Wolff.
Of current wireless Internet users, 59 percent report that they use the service mostly for sending and receiving e-mail messages. In addition, of those who do not have wireless Internet but report interest in the service, 62 percent would use it primarily for sending and receiving email messages.
'People are already paying for Internet service and have access to e-mail through this service. They do not want to pay for their e-mail twice,' explained Wolff. 'As a result of the dot-com meltdown, there are less product offerings and new innovations. Perhaps if there were companies presenting a new application or a new product that was unique to wireless Internet, interest would be increasing rather than declining.'