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Impact of Technology on Relationships - UK - October 2010

This report will analyse the trends behind the growth of the ‘always-on’ consumer in the UK today and explore the way in which this has affected relationships between friends and family. It will also seek to provide insight into who is more likely to be connected, as well as the impact that this has had on face-to-face communication during leisure activities outside of the home.

  • SMS text messages are the most popular communications channel, used on a daily basis by 55% of respondents, closely followed by mobile voice calls (44%). Usage of fixed-line calls is driven by older respondents, with 50% of over-55’s communicating this way on a weekly basis. In addition, over a third of respondents send a letter on a monthly basis.
  • Despite consumers increased reliance on mobile communications, 38% of respondents association fixed-line communications with the word ‘essential’, five percentage points more than SMS texts and only ten percentage points less than mobile voice calls. Perhaps because fixed line offers the reassurance of having a physical connection to the outside world.
  • Some 50% of respondents agree that they are doing more social networking compared to two years ago, a reflection of the rapid growth in popularity of such sites. According to comScore data, 38.1 million unique internet users accessed a social network in 2010, more than double the figure in 2006 (19.4 million).
  • Over half of the respondents surveyed agree that they try to be in constant contact throughout the day via their mobile phone. This is likely to be driven primarily by a desire to be in voice and SMS contact. However, in the case of more advanced smartphone users, the ability to be in constant contact with a social network or email account is also likely to be of importance.
  • Females have a greater tendency to share photos online (77% compared to 69% of males) because they are more enthusiastic users of social networks, where photos are regarded as a common currency to be shared with friends. Older respondents tend to share less overall, reflecting their lower tendency to use online communication channels on a daily basis.
  • Despite the increased popularity of social networking, a third of respondents agree that they are using instant messenger more compared to two years ago, while a further 38% agree that they are sending more emails. However, in the case of instant messaging, growth in the last two years has been offset by the fact that 27% of internet users agree they are using these types of services less.

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Table of contents

  1. Issues in the Market

      • Definitions
        • Abbreviations
        • Future Opportunities

            • Stability
              • Switch off
              • Market in Brief

                • The rise of the mobile phone
                  • General attitudes towards mobile communication
                    • A nation happy to keep in touch online
                      • Online communication drives content sharing
                      • Internal Market Environment

                        • Key points
                          • Growing penetration of broadband
                            • Figure 1: Broadband penetration, by demographics, 2004-09
                          • Online activities focused on communications
                            • Figure 2: Types of activity undertaken on the internet, April 2009-July 2010
                          • Growing ownership of new technology
                            • Figure 3: Device ownership summary, April 2009-July 2010
                          • Social networking goes mobile
                            • Figure 4: Sites visited using a mobile phone, July 2009-July 2010
                        • Broader Market Environment

                          • Key points
                            • An ageing population brings new opportunities
                              • Figure 5: Trends in the age structure of the UK population, 2005-15
                            • Shrinking households spark a greater need to connect
                              • Figure 6: UK households, by size, 2005-15
                          • The Communications Market in Context

                              • Trends in usage of mobile voice calls and SMS texts
                                • Figure 7: Number of minutes spent talking on mobile phones*, Q2 2004-Q1 2010
                                • Figure 8: Total number of text messages sent annually, 2004-09
                              • Mobile internet connectivity on the move
                                • Figure 9: Mobile data volumes, Q4 2007-Q4 2009
                              • Increased popularity tests the limits of capacity
                                • Falling demand for fixed lines
                                  • Figure 10: Number of fixed lines, 2004-09
                                • Usage of email and instant messenger by brand
                                  • Figure 11: Selected leading internet messenger services, August 2010
                                  • Figure 12: Top ten email sites, August 2010
                                • Time spent social networking compared to other sites
                                  • Figure 13: Usage of selected social networks, by total unique visitors, reach, total minutes spent, total visits and average minutes per visit, August 2010
                              • Who’s Innovating?

                                • Key points
                                  • Communication by shopping
                                    • Blending online with offline communication
                                      • Enabling the deaf to communicate online
                                        • Micromobs for friends and family
                                          • Facebook comes to Hotmail, Messenger and Skype
                                          • Communication between Friends and Family

                                              • On a daily basis mobile and texts dominate
                                                • Figure 14: Communication channels used on a daily basis, August 2010
                                              • Fixed lines remain important to older consumers
                                                • Figure 15: Communication channels used once or twice a week, August 2010
                                                • Figure 16: Frequency of usage of mobile phones to keep in contact with friends and family, by gender and age, August 2010
                                              • Young most avid users of texts, social networks and messenger
                                                • Figure 17: Selected communication channels used on a daily basis, by age, August 2010
                                              • Women more likely to text on a daily basis
                                                • Figure 18: Selected communication used daily to keep in contact with friends and family, by gender, August 2010
                                              • VoIP services versus fixed-line calls
                                                • There is still a place for traditional correspondence
                                                • Trends in Communication Patterns

                                                    • Growth of social networks as a communication tool
                                                      • Figure 19: Frequency of usage of mobile phones to keep in contact with friends and family, by gender and age, August 2010
                                                    • Usage of communication channels by age
                                                      • Figure 20: Communication channels used more to communicate with friends and family compared to two years ago, by age, August 2010
                                                  • Attitudes Towards Communication Channels

                                                    • Key points
                                                      • Fixed-line calls – are they still essential?
                                                        • Figure 21: Words/phrases associated with methods of communication, August 2010
                                                        • Figure 22: Words/phrases associated with further methods of communication, August 2010
                                                      • Social networks – fun, but not essential
                                                        • Could recent security issues be Facebook’s undoing?
                                                          • Other consumer associations
                                                          • Usage of Technology to Arrange Leisure Activities

                                                            • Key points
                                                              • The dominance of mobile voice and SMS text messages
                                                                • Figure 23: Most important communication methods to arrange out-of-home leisure activities with friends or family, August 2010
                                                              • Young favour text messages over calls
                                                                • Figure 24: Selected communication methods ranked first to arrange out-of-home leisure activities with friends or family, by age, August 2010
                                                            • Attitudes Towards Mobile Communication

                                                              • Key points
                                                                • Mobiles leading to flexible plans and venue hopping
                                                                  • Figure 25: Statements on using mobile phones during or on your way to do out-of-home leisure activities, August 2010
                                                                • Young value connectivity, old see it as a distraction
                                                                  • Figure 26: Any agree statements on using mobile phones during or on your way to do out-of-home leisure activities, August 2010
                                                              • Attitudes Towards Social Networks

                                                                • Key points
                                                                  • Privacy controls take centre stage
                                                                    • Figure 27: Statements on using social networks, August 2010
                                                                  • Creators versus spectators
                                                                    • Which consumers prefer to be in constant contact?
                                                                      • Figure 28: Any agree statements on using social networks, by age, August 2010
                                                                    • Females are the most avid social networkers
                                                                      • Figure 29: Any agree statements on using social networks, by gender, August 2010
                                                                  • What do Consumers Like to Share Online?

                                                                      • Photos the most likely to be shared online
                                                                        • Figure 30: Things personally shared with friends and family over the web in the last 12 months, August 2010
                                                                      • Video versus photo
                                                                        • Impact of family life on sharing video
                                                                          • Figure 31: Things personally shared with friends and family over the web in the last 12 months, by presence of children in the household, August 2010
                                                                        • Gender differences in sharing content online
                                                                          • Figure 32: Things personally shared with friends and family over the web in the last 12 months, by gender, August 2010
                                                                        • The propensity to share declines with age
                                                                          • Figure 33: Things personally shared with friends and family over the web in the last 12 months, by age, August 2010
                                                                        • Range of things shared online
                                                                          • Figure 34: Repertoire of types of things personally shared with friends and family over the web in the last 12 months, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                      • Connected Consumer Targeting Opportunities

                                                                            • Figure 35: Usage of mobile communications for leisure-targeting opportunities, August 2010
                                                                          • Mobile Facilitators
                                                                            • Mobile Addicts
                                                                              • Communications Shy
                                                                                • Target groups versus content shared online
                                                                                  • Figure 36: Things personally shared with friends and family over the web in the last 12 months, by target groups, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 37: Repertoire of things personally shared with friends and family over the web in the last 12 months, by target groups, August 2010
                                                                                • Target groups versus attitudes towards social networking
                                                                                  • Figure 38: Statements on using social networks, by target groups, August 2010
                                                                              • Appendix – Trends in Communication Patterns

                                                                                  • Figure 39: Usage of social networking sites, November 2006-August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 40: Usage of social-networking sites, November 2006-August 2010
                                                                              • Appendix – Communication Between Friends and Family

                                                                                  • Figure 41: Frequency of usage of mobile calls to communicate with friends and family, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 42: Frequency of usage of SMS text message to communicate with friends and family, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 43: Frequency of usage of MMS picture message to communicate with friends and family, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 44: Frequency of usage of email (outside of social networks) to communicate with friends and family, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 45: Frequency of usage of fixed-line calls to communicate with friends and family, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 46: Frequency of usage VoIP calls (eg Skype) to communicate with friends and family, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 47: Frequency of usage of letter/post to communicate with friends and family, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 48: Frequency of usage of social network messages/chat to communicate with friends and family, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 49: Frequency of usage of instant messenger (outside of social networks) to communicate with friends and family, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                              • Appendix – Trends in Communication Patterns

                                                                                  • Figure 50: Usage of mobile calls to communicate with friends and family compared to two years ago, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 51: Usage of SMS text message to communicate with friends and family compared to two years ago, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 52: Usage of MMS picture message to communicate with friends and family compared to two years ago, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 53: Usage of email (outside of social networks) to communicate with friends and family compared to two years ago, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 54: Usage of fixed-line calls to communicate with friends and family compared to two years ago, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 55: Usage of VoIP calls (eg Skype) to communicate with friends and family compared to two years ago, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 56: Usage of letter/post to communicate with friends and family compared to two years ago, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 57: Usage of social network messages/chat to communicate with friends and family compared to two years ago, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 58: Usage of instant messenger (outside social network) to communicate with friends and family compared to two years ago, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                              • Appendix – Attitudes Towards Communication Channels

                                                                                  • Figure 59: Most popular communication methods associated with the word 'accessible', by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 60: Next most popular communication methods associated with the word 'accessible', by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 61: Most popular communication methods associated with the word 'fun', by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 62: Next most popular communication methods associated with the word 'fun', by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 63: Communication methods associated with the word 'expensive', by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 64: Communication methods associated with the word 'addictive', by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 65: Most popular communication methods associated with the word 'cheap', by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 66: Next most popular communication methods associated with the word 'cheap', by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 67: Communication methods associated with the word 'poor quality', by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 68: Communication methods associated with the word 'alienating', by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 69: Communication methods associated with the word 'boring', by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 70: Communication methods associated with the word 'impersonal', by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 71: Most popular communication methods associated with the word 'essential', by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 72: Next most popular communication methods associated with the word 'essential', by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 73: Most popular communication methods associated with the word 'overrated', by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 74: Next most popular communication methods associated with the word 'overrated', by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 75: Communication methods associated with the word 'invasive', by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 76: Most popular communication methods associated with the word 'convenient', by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 77: Next most popular communication methods associated with the word 'convenient', by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 78: Most popular communication methods associated with the word 'sociable', by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 79: Next most popular communication methods associated with the word 'sociable', by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 80: Most popular communication methods associated with the word 'time-consuming', by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 81: Next most popular communication methods associated with the word 'time-consuming', by demographics, August 2010
                                                                              • Appendix – Usage of Technology to Arrange Leisure Activities

                                                                                  • Figure 82: Importance of mobile calls to arrange an out-of-home leisure activity with friends or family, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 83: Importance of SMS text message to arrange an out-of-home leisure activity with friends or family, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 84: Importance of email (outside of social networks) to arrange an out-of-home leisure activity with friends or family, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 85: Importance of fixed-line calls to arrange an out-of-home leisure activity with friends or family, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 86: Importance of letter/post to arrange an out-of-home leisure activity with friends or family, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                              • Appendix – Attitudes Towards Mobile Communication

                                                                                  • Figure 87: Statements on using mobile phones during or on your way to do out-of-home leisure activities, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 88: Statements on using mobile phones during or on your way to do out-of-home leisure activities, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 89: Statements on using mobile phones during or on your way to do out-of-home leisure activities, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 90: Statements on using mobile phones during or on your way to do out-of-home leisure activities, August 2010
                                                                              • Appendix – Attitudes Towards Social Networks

                                                                                  • Figure 91: Statements on using social networks, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 92: Statements on using social networks, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 93: Statements on using social networks, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 94: Statements on using social networks, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                              • Appendix – What do Consumers Like to Share Online?

                                                                                  • Figure 95: Most popular things personally shared with friends and family over the web in the last 12 months, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 96: Next most popular things personally shared with friends and family over the web in the last 12 months, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 97: Repertoire of things personally shared with friends and family over the web in the last 12 months, by demographics, August 2010
                                                                              • Appendix – Connected Consumer Targeting Opportunities

                                                                                  • Figure 98: Statements on using mobile phones during or on your way to do out-of-home leisure activities by target groups, August 2010
                                                                                  • Figure 99: Target groups, by demographics, August 2010

                                                                              Companies Covered

                                                                              • AOL
                                                                              • Bebo Inc
                                                                              • British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
                                                                              • Council of Mortgage Lenders
                                                                              • Facebook, Inc.
                                                                              • FriendsReunited
                                                                              • Google UK
                                                                              • Government Actuary's Department (GAD)
                                                                              • Interactive Advertising Bureau (UK)
                                                                              • Kantar Media
                                                                              • Kelkoo S.A.
                                                                              • LinkedIn
                                                                              • Microsoft Ltd (UK)
                                                                              • MySpace.com
                                                                              • Nintendo UK Entertainment Ltd
                                                                              • Nokia Corporation (UK)
                                                                              • Ofcom
                                                                              • Picasa
                                                                              • PriceRunner UK
                                                                              • Procter & Gamble UK & Ireland
                                                                              • Radio Joint Audience Research Limited
                                                                              • Research in Motion Uk Ltd.
                                                                              • Skype Technologies S.A.
                                                                              • T-Mobile (UK) Ltd
                                                                              • The Carphone Warehouse Ltd
                                                                              • Twitter, Inc.
                                                                              • Virgin Media Ltd
                                                                              • Virgin Mobile
                                                                              • YouTube, Inc.

                                                                              Impact of Technology on Relationships - UK - October 2010

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