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State of the smart
Consumer usage patterns of the smartphone

Global Mobile Consumer Survey 2017
Belgian edition

Global Mobile Consumer Survey 2017
Belgian edition

Executive summary
Themes
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Executive summary
Themes
Highlights
About
Contacts
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What’s age got to do with it?

Smartphone adoption among Belgian adults continues to rise and usage is increasing across generations. The truth is we have become completely dependent on our phone and rely on it every second of the day, whether it is to tell us what time it is, where to go or what is going on in the world.


Theme
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Students
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Young professionals
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Parents
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Grandparents
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Weighted base: All smartphone owners, Students (218), Young professionals (334), Parents (650), Grandparents (148)
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10 years on: Can we imagine life without a smartphone?

Ten years ago, Apple launched its very first iPhone. This announced the start of a new era, in which several existing and new mobile phone manufacturers fought hard to bring the best smartphones to the market, and grab their share of the 1.5 billion smartphones sold annually worldwide (2016). This fierce competition led to important technological improvements, which benefited consumers: existing features were enhanced, and new features were added. More and more the smartphone started to become a life companion, and today, we are fully dependent on it. Over the past few years, the intensity of smartphone usage has strongly increased. On average, Belgian smartphone owners look at their phone 34 times a day. Whereas smartphone owners in Belgium used to prefer using their laptop for the majority of activities, the smartphone has gently been overtaking the laptop as the preferred device during the last few years (see Figure 1). The smartphone has always been, and continues to be, the preferred device for activities such as taking photos and making voice calls.

In the past, Belgians used their laptop for activities such as checking social networks, bank balances or reading the news. With larger screens and increased mobility overall, the smartphone has become the preferred device for these activities since 2017. People are using their smartphone more often to do all types of activities, at any given time of the day. We are inseparable from our smartphones. We use our smartphones more often to do all kinds of activities, at any given time of the day. We are inseparable from our smartphones. We take it to bed, we check it during the night, and it is the first thing we turn to after waking up.
Theme
Addictive behaviour Half of the smartphone owners check their smartphone within 15 minutes of waking up (see Figure 2). Usage patterns vary across different brands and age groups. Our study shows that iPhone owners are more attached to their phone than owners of any other brand. 60 per cent of the surveyed iPhone owners reach for their phone within 15 minutes of waking up. 18- 24 year olds are even more addicted to their phone. Within this age group, half of the respondents check their phone within five minutes of waking up. Nearly half of the Belgians surveyed check their smartphone for the last time less than 15 minutes before going to sleep. This addictive behaviour also goes on when people wake up in the middle of the night. More than 40 per cent of the surveyed population checks their phone when their sleep is interrupted, although the majority of them only check the time. About 10 per cent also check their messages, emails or social media notifications. Usage for 18-24 year olds is higher at night compared to the rest of the population. Within this age group, 60 per cent checks their phone in the middle of the night with 43 per cent checking the time, 25 per cent checking social media notifications, and 20 per cent checking instant messages.

It is remarkable that people do not just use their smartphone during idle time such as when using public transportation. There is a clear usage increase during busy time, which we define as the time when people are busy with other activities. Why do people want to use smartphones during these activities? In addition to trying to ‘buy time’, the use of smartphones can also enhance the experience of these activities. Whilst watching TV, people can talk to friends about a specific programme or interact directly with a TV programme.
Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of the smartphone owners use their smartphone whilst watching TV almost always or very often, while another 28 per cent use it from time to time. This means that 52 per cent of the respondents use their smartphone whilst watching TV on a regular basis (see Figure 3). Moreover, even when interacting with people, respondents are busy on their smartphone: one out of three admits to using their smartphone occasionally when talking to or spending time with family or friends.

42 per cent of respondents admit to using their phones from time to time while walking and 13 per cent do so while crossing the road. In response to similar findings, a number of cities in Australia and the Netherlands are making changes to accommodate this behaviour. One approach has been to place a set of traffic lights on the edge of the pavement to direct pedestrians who are constantly looking down at their screens as they walk, and not looking up at road signs. Another approach has been to segregate stretches of pavement, with one side reserved for those gazing at their devices. Students, aged 18-24, have grown up with a smartphone. They can’t imagine a world without mobile connectivity. They have more contact with their friends over mobile devices than any other age group. 19 per cent of 18-24 year olds look at their smartphone at least 100 times a day. Four out of every five students occasionally use their smartphone while watching TV. Furthermore, young people use their smartphone intensively when they meet friends on a night out (63 per cent on a regular basis) or when they spend time with family and friends (56 per cent on a regular basis). All these results show that the rise of the smartphone has reinvented the way we live our lives. Companies need to acknowledge this and be ready to deal with consumers that are connected always and everywhere. There is no such thing as being offline anymore.


Mobile phone overuse 43 per cent of smartphone users feel that they use their phone too much. Among 18-24 year olds, awareness of intensive smartphone usage is even higher as 57 per cent think they use their phone too much. Older age groups have a much lower incidence of over-usage. Only about one out of five 65-75 year olds believes he uses his smartphone excessively.

The actions that people take to control their smartphone usage have a common theme: removing temptation. The top five are:

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Smartphone establishes clear lead Smartphone adoption among Belgian adults continues to rise with close to 80 per cent owning or having access to one as of mid-2017 (see Figure 4). Penetration increased year-on-year by six percentage points. Four years ago, adoption was at 39 per cent. Among younger age groups (18-34 year olds), smartphone adoption is over 90 per cent. This puts smartphone adoption just behind that of the laptop, which has a market penetration of 81 per cent in Belgium. Although the laptop remains the most popular consumer electronics device, its penetration rate has stayed relatively flat over the last four years (74 per cent in 2013). The smartphone has now established a clear lead as one of the most popular consumer electronics devices, only one percentage point away from the laptop and over 24 percentage points more than the tablet. This should lead to more content, content creation tools and processes designed specifically for the smartphone, resulting in an ever-greater usage of and reliance on these devices. In turn, this should spur continued investment in enhancing smartphone capabilities and underlying networks.

The array of everyday or common applications that are being built for smartphones is already growing, ranging from paying for street parking, planning the best options for the journey home, booking a haircut, communicating with teachers (or other parents) or renewing a library book. As the set of smartphone optimised applications continues to grow, the rationale for owning a smartphone should edge higher. It may become ever harder to live without one. Among Belgian adults, the smartphone is, by a fair distance, the most intensively used device. 80 per cent of adults own a smartphone, and among these, 93% use their device daily. This means that just over 74 per cent of all adults aged 18-75 now use a smartphone daily (see Figure 5). In second place is the laptop, used by 61 per cent of adults daily (81 per cent have one). Daily smartphone usage is now several times that of other devices. For example, 5 per cent of Belgian adults use an eReader daily (16 per cent of 18-75 year olds own one, among these daily usage averages 30 per cent).
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Keeping their device in a handbag or pocket when meeting people
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Turning off audio notifications
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Turning off data connectivity
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Leaving their device outside the bedroom at night
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Putting on ‘do not disturb’ or ‘flight mode’

What about connected devices? Last year, demand for connected devices (other than smartphone or tablets) appeared to be in its infancy with Belgian consumers and had yet to gain traction. Connected devices such as smart thermostats, smart watches, and smart TVs can connect to the internet or to each other, allowing users to consume less energy, check their mail on their watch, and stream their favourite movies on their TV. While they are still far from reaching the market penetration of laptops or smartphones, nearly all connected devices reached at least ten per cent in 2017, doubling their market penetration since last year (see Figure 4). The “connected entertainment” category is the clear leader in connected device ownership, with 34 per cent of surveyed consumers owning a smart TV, while 28 per cent owns a game console. Other products that are gaining market share are fitness bands (12 per cent), video streaming devices (10 per cent) and connected car systems (9 per cent).

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Relevant charts
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Preferred device, per activity
38%
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of smartphone owners check their social networks on their smartphone, compared to 24% check on their laptop
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The interval between checking phones for the first time after waking and for the last time before going to sleep
49%
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of the smartphone owners check their smartphone within 15 minutes of waking up
After waking
Before going to sleep
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Smartphone activity during other activities
33%
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admits to be busy with their smartphone occasionally when talking to or spending time with family or friends.
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Device penetration 2017, and year-on-year growth
80%
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of Belgian population own a smartphone
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Frequency of usage, by device
93%
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of smartphone owners use their smartphone on a daily basis
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People are using their smartphone more often to do all types of activities, at any given time of the day
The smartphone has now established a clear lead as one of the most popular consumer electronics devices
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Preferred device, per activity

Question: Which, if any, is your preferred device for each of the following activities?
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Weighted base: All adults 18-75 who have a phone or a smartphone, BE, in 2017, All (1898), Male (929), Female (969), 18-24 (230), 25-34 (345), 35-44 (364), 45-54 (386), 55-64 (329), 65-75 (245); in 2016, All (1836), Male (915), Female (921), 18-24 (228), 25-34(335), 35-44 (355), 45-54 (374), 55-64 (312), 65-75 (231)
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The interval between checking phones for the first time after waking and for the last time before going to sleep

Question: Typically, how long is the interval between waking up and looking at your phone for the first time?
Weighted base: All smartphone owners aged 18-75 years (1593)
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The interval between checking phones for the first time after waking and for the last time before going to sleep

Question: At the end of the day, typically how long is the interval between looking at your phone for the last time and preparing to sleep?
Weighted base: All smartphone owners aged 18-75 years (1593)
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Smartphone activity during other activities

Question: How often, it at all, do you use your mobile phone while doing the following?
Weighted base: All smartphone owners aged 18-75 years (1593)
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Device penetration 2017, and year-on-year growth

Question: Which, if any, of the following devices do you own or have ready access to (i.e. it is readily available for you to use. For example, this may be a smartphone provided to you by your employer or a tablet owned by someone else in your household)
Weighted base: All respondents aged 18-75 years, 2017 (2002); 2016 (2000)
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Frequency of usage, by device

Question: Thinking of when you last used each device, was it within the…?
Weighted base: All respondents aged 18-75 years and I have access to Laptop (1,613), Smartphone (1,593), Desktop/tower computer (1,012), Large tablet over 9 inches (741), Standard mobile phone (586), Small tablet between 7-9 inches (519), Portable games player (422), Fitness band (238), eReader (216), Smart watch (115), Virtual reality headset (54)
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Purchasing & replacing: Why, when and where?

Issues trump preferences With an overall market penetration of 80 per cent, the smartphone is not likely to experience the same penetration growth as over the past few years. However, while smartphone penetration is plateauing, we do not expect a decrease in smartphone sales as one out of three (27 per cent) is likely to buy a mobile phone within the next year. Knowing that around 60 per cent of the population bought a smartphone in the last 18 months and 83 per cent bought one in the last 30 months, the smartphone has a relatively short life span. Several reasons push people to replace their smartphone. Malfunctioning or broken hardware (59 per cent), broken screens (49 per cent) and reaction time of the smartphone (36 per cent) are the most common. Surprisingly, the release of a new model does not appear to be one of the main drivers to change smartphones. 72 per cent declared that it does not prompt them to change phones. For three out of four respondents, the willingness to change phone brands is also not a reason to buy a new smartphone. In general, Belgians are loyal to their smartphone brand. More than half of Samsung, iPhone and Sony owners stated that their previous smartphone was from the same brand.

Theme
Online commerce on the rise, or not?
At a national level, e-commerce sales are growing rapidly. Internet retailing in Belgium grew by 17 per cent in current value terms to reach €5.7 billion in 2016. A growing number of retailers with a high street heritage are strengthening their online visibility or downsizing their street presence. Nevertheless, the smartphone market does not seem to follow this rising trend. Only 19 per cent used an online purchasing channel when buying a new phone (see Figure 6). The most popular online channel is undoubtedly online-only e-commerce websites (37 per cent of online sales). Other favored online vendor channels are manufacturer’s websites and mobile operator’s websites (both 15 per cent of offline sales), and consumer electronic retailer’s website (13 per cent of offline sales). When people do not buy online, they get their smartphone through an offline channel (67 per cent) or other channels (14 per cent). These other channels can be a gift from family or friends, received from employer or leasing, amongst other. The smartphone is, and is likely to remain, an inherently tactile, and also for many an expensive, purchase. Therefore, consumers like to go into a shop and see, touch and play with devices, often to convince themselves that they are making the right decision, even when they ultimately purchase online. The materials used, the weight of the handset, the positioning of the fingerprint reader and the reflectiveness of the screen are all aspects of a smartphone that are hard to evaluate solely through a website.

Do people still go into mobile operator stores?
Of the 67 per cent buying smartphones offline, the most popular shops to acquire phones are electronics retailers (33 per cent) and mobile phone shops (26 per cent). The popularity of the mobile operator stores strongly decreased.   Only 23 per cent of offline smartphone purchases happen in a mobile operator’s store. Last year, this was 33 per cent. This raises questions about the importance of street presence for Belgian telecom operators. Over the last year, slightly over half of Belgian respondents aged 18-75 visited a mobile operator’s store; 15 per cent visited in the prior month for one of the following services:
  • To get information about mobile phones
  • To renew a contract or purchase a mobile phone
  • To obtain help or advice with technical issues
  • To get information about contract/tariffs or query a bill
So, what is the role of the operator’s store today? Although mobile is becoming firmly mainstream, it has been in a state of constant evolution over the last two decades in terms of networks, handsets and applications. Making sense of this complexity is challenging. Stores may be needed simply to explain the units by which mobile data – the fuel for smartphones – is sold, that is in blocks of bytes. Mobile’s evolution is likely to continue over the next few years. As of 2017, there are three generations of mobile networks (2G, 3G and 4G) operating concurrently. By 2020, 5G should be available. Between now and then, iterations of 4G networks are likely to be launched. There is however definitely a need for mobile operators to maintain a physical retail presence, to be able to explain mobile networks’ rising capabilities. Over the years, mobile phones have become more similar on the outside and more differentiated on the inside. Choosing a smartphone is, and is likely to remain, daunting. The wrong decision, for example with regard to operating system, memory size or colour, can lead to two years and twenty-five thousand glances of regret.
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The smartphone afterlife
We mentioned that the lifespan of the smartphone is rather short today. People have many reasons to change mobile phones, but what happened with the old model when a new phone was purchased? Nearly half of the respondents (43 per cent) kept their old phone as a spare. However, 19 per cent of used smartphones were given to a family member or friend, and 11 per cent were sold or traded. We say that these 30 per cent of smartphones have an afterlife. Last year, only 25 per cent of old smartphones had an afterlife. Other phones, accounting for approximately 27 per cent of used phones, were mostly thrown away, recycled in another way, stolen, lost, etc.

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Relevant charts
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Smartphone purchasing channels
19%
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of smartphones were purchased online, compared to 67% in store
Offline channel
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The smartphone afterlife
30%
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of the smartphones have an after-life.
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Respondents who went into an operator’s store, by last time visited
22%
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of offline smartphone purchases happens in a mobile operator’s store
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Mobile operators' stores popularity as purchase channel for smartphones has dropped from 33 per cent to 23 per cent. Nevertheless, slightly over half of Belgian adults visited an operator's store in the last 12 months for issues or questions.
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Smartphone purchasing channels (offline)

Question: How did you purchase your current phone? You said you purchased your current phone online/offline, which of the following best describes where you purchased it from?
Weighted base: Smartphone owners who have bought/received a new phone through online purchase (296), offline purchase (963), other (327)
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Smartphone purchasing channels (online)

Question: How did you purchase your current phone? You said you purchased your current phone online/offline, which of the following best describes where you purchased it from?
Weighted base: Smartphone owners who have bought/received a new phone through online purchase (296), offline purchase (963), other (327)
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Respondents who went into an operator’s store, by last time visited

Question: When, if at all, was the last time you went into a mobile operator’s store for each of the following? Was this within the…?
Note: The results refer to respondents who have been into an operator store for any of the following reasons: ‘To get information about mobile phones’, ‘To renew my contract or purchase a mobile phone’, ‘To obtain help or advice with technical issues’, ‘To get information about contract/tariffs or query my bill’. Weighted base: All respondents aged 18-75 years (2002)
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The smartphone afterlife

Question: What actually happens to the old model when a new phone is purchased?
Weighted base: All respondents aged 18-75 years, 2017 (2002); 2016 (2000)
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Smartphone usage: What do we do with it all day?

A smart phone, but what about traditional voice calls? The main purpose of the phone was once to make standard voice calls. Today’s smartphones have many different features and use cases. Despite the rising number of these other features, making standard voice calls is still a popular communication method in Belgium. On a weekly basis, 83 per cent of the smartphone owners use their phone to make voice calls (see Figure 9). Across generations, this pattern is relatively similar. Moreover, weekly usage has increased by 12 percentage points since last year (71 per cent), which makes it the strongest growing communication method. Looking more specifically at daily voice calls, we observe different behaviours. Close to 50 per cent of the older age groups make a voice call at least once a day. These numbers are increasing compared to last year (except for the 55 year olds or above). Daily usage in the youngest age group (18-24 year olds), however, is significantly lower. Only 29 per cent of this generation makes voice calls every day (31 per cent in 2016). Generation smartphone – those born in 2000 or after – may struggle to understand why those born just a decade before used to use their mobile phones principally to make traditional phone calls, much as those born in the 1990s are bemused by the sight of corded telephones. Our survey reveals that over the last 12 months most forms of data communication have become more widespread, as the respondents reported more frequent use of channels such as instant messaging, social networks and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). These new communication channels are data intensive. As a result, consumers’ demands for mobile carriers and smartphone vendors are changing. From network operators, they expect monthly plans with high volumes of data and improved data networks. From smartphone manufacturers, they expect larger screens, faster connectivity, more powerful processors, and higher-quality cameras.
Theme

Data communication, more and better
People are using their smartphones more to communicate compared to last year (see Figure 10). They do so across different communication methods, all of which complement each other. Consumers do not regard them as substitutes. The traditional text message, an SMS, has seen a prudent growth in usage compared to last year. Nevertheless, it has remained the most popular communication tool on a smartphone across age groups over the last two years, and is used by 88 per cent of the smartphone users on a weekly basis. The youngest generations are the most intensive users of SMS. While email may be considered by some as old-fashioned, weekly usage on mobile (73 per cent) increased by four percentage points since last year. Email’s appeal lies in its universality: every smartphone includes an email app. The email format has changed little over the last few years, yet it remains a simple and useful way to send and receive any type of communication quickly. There has also been a significant year-on-year increase in usage of each of the other communications tools. Across age groups, 68 per cent of the smartphone owners use social networks on a weekly basis. This is an increase of ten percentage points compared to last year. Usage of instant messaging grew by seven percentage points, closing the top five of most used communication methods. The youngest age group (18-34 year olds), in particular, contributes to the intensified use of social networks and instant messaging. This indicates that young people are looking for the fastest way possible to communicate. They often use SMS, instant messaging or social media, but they are not keen on making standard voice calls. Young people are spending a lot of time on their smartphone, time that needs to be divided across all their applications. Therefore, they want to be as efficient as possible and use short-form communication methods. Other, less popular, non-standard voice applications include voice over IP (VoIP) and video calls.
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Dazzling array of apps One of the main drivers of the “smartphone sensation” is the breadth and utility of the apps available to consumers. Apps allow consumers to easily conduct activities on their smartphone such as checking the weather, social networking, email messaging and navigating. Apps are preferred to mobile web browsers when the content is uniform, or accessed daily. The quantity of apps downloaded on smartphones has increased slightly compared to last year. In addition to pre-installed apps, Belgian smartphone users have installed on average 20 applications on their smartphone. The 18-24 age group has the most apps. The main reason why people do not download additional apps is because of the limited utility of these extra apps in the eyes of the user. This trend for a limited number of apps installed and maintained by mobile device owners represents a challenge for app developers: they are required to have an app installed and monetised over time. Access to the digital world through smartphone apps has created fragmentation in many countries. Aggregation of smartphone activities is the next frontier for media companies and there are few successful attempts to date. One effective example of this aggregation can be found in China with the app WeChat, which has 800 million users. The app, operated by Tencent, is a portal of web services that allows users to conduct a number of activities such as sending instant messages, posting life events, hailing rides, shopping online, sending payments, as well as a series of business focused activities. Offering customers a sole interface for everything they do on their smartphone may be the route to owning the mobile consumer of the future. Zooming in on messaging apps, personal email, Facebook, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are popular among all age groups. Snapchat and Instagram are most popular with the 18-24 demographic (see Figure 11).
The power of mobile money
Belgian smartphone owners enjoy mobile shopping. The most performed shopping-related activity on a phone is researching a product. On a monthly basis, 47 per cent of smartphone owners research a product or service on their smartphone, 41 per cent browse shopping websites or apps, and 18 per cent have paid for products online using their smartphone. This translates into a ‘conversion’ rate of 44 per cent, which increased with 16 percentage points against last year. Mobile payments have increased and are expected to increase again next year thanks to the developments in the market. Most of the major retailers have convenient check-out options for mobile purchases, which allow the payment to be done frictionless. For example, Amazon saves card details in their app so the customer can execute ‘one-click’ payments. Applications or websites often provide an option to go directly to the Bancontact or bank app to execute the payment. In Belgium, two of the major banks, Belfius and KBC, followed the example of ING by becoming a shareholder of Payconiq, a Belgian mobile payment app. These sorts of frictionless payment experiences considerably increase market adoption of mobile payments in Belgium and allow e-commerce platforms to increase their conversion rate. Mobile in-store payments will be the next wave of evolution, as Android pay was introduced in March 2017 on the Belgian market and Apple is expected to launch in 2018. The Bancontact app allows contactless payments with smartphones since October.
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Relevant charts
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Usage of standard voice calls, by age group
50%
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of older age groups (increasing) make a standard voice call at least a day
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Most used communications apps, year-on-year evolution
67%
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SMS remains the most popular communication channel on a daily basis
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Most used communication applications, across age groups
79%
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of the 18-24 year olds use Facebook daily
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The power of mobile money (conversion rate)
18%
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use their smartphone to make online purchase each month
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Usage frequency of financial-related services/apps
49%
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of the smartphone owners in Belgium check their bank balances on a smartphone on a monthly basis
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Whereas 50% of older age groups make a standard voice call at least once a day, only 29% of young people (18-24 year olds) call daily.
Without consideration of pre-installed apps, on average Belgian smartphone users have installed 20 applications on their smartphone

Banking on the go Mobile banking is the number one way to interact with a bank in Belgium, surpassing internet banking or visiting a bank branch. Nearly half of the smartphone owners in Belgium check their bank balances on a smartphone, while more than one out of four (27 per cent) use their smartphone to transfer money to another individual in the same country (see Figure 13). Mobile banking activity is higher for Millennials (aged 18-34). More than 60 per cent of Millennials check their bank balances on their smartphone on a monthly basis. It is expected that this trend will only increase in the coming years. New players are entering the banking market with mobile-first offerings (e.g. N26, Revolut). Orange, a leading mobile operator in Belgium, acquired Groupama Banque in 2016. They launched Orange Bank in France in 2017 and will enter the Belgian market in 2019.

Video, the rising star? One last remarkable comment on smartphone usage: the appearance of mobile videos in our lives. The proportion of Belgian adults watching videos on their smartphones was only 2 per cent in 2013. In 2017, 38 per cent of the smartphone users watch short videos on their smartphone every week. Overall, consumption of video via a smartphone remains relatively infrequent, particularly for long-form content such as television programmes and movies, for which respondents tend to turn to bigger screens (see Figure 15). The smartphone is becoming more important for video, but it is likely to remain a fallback screen, and not the screen of choice. Among all age groups, the TV remains the preferred device for consuming long form live TV and video content.
Overall, consumption of video via a smartphone remains relatively infrequent, particularly for long-form content such as television programs and movies, for which respondents tend to turn out to bigger screens
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Video, the rising star? (evolution of video)
38%
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of the smartphone owners watch short videos weekly
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Preferred device for watching videos
34%
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The laptop is still the preferred device for watching short videos
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Usage of standard voice calls, by age group

Question: How often, if at all, do you use voice calls on your mobile phone?
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Weighted base: All smartphone owners aged 18-75 (1593), 18-24 (218), 25-34 (334), 35-44(333), 45-54 (317), 55-64 (243), 65-75 (148)
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Most used communications apps, year-on-year evolution

Question: How often, if at all, do you use each of these on you mobile phone?
Weighted base: All smartphone owners aged 18-75 in 2017 (1593); in 2016 (1482)
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Most used communication applications, across age groups

Question: Below is a list of apps which you may have on your mobile phone. Please state which you use on a daily basis
Weighted base: All smartphone owners aged 18-75 in 2017 (1593); in 2016 (1482)
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The power of mobile money

Conversion rate, evolution 2016-2017
Weighted base: All respondents aged 18-75 years, 2017 (2002); 2016 (2000)
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Usage frequency of financial-related services/apps

Question: In the last month, have you used your phone to do any of the following activities?
Weighted base: All smartphones owners aged 18-75: 1593; aged 18-34 (552), aged 35-54 (650), aged 55-75 (391)
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Video, the rising star?

Infographic: Evolution of video
Weighted base: All smartphones owners aged 18-75 (1593)
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Preferred device for watching videos

Question: Which, if any, is your preferred device for each of the following activities?
Weighted base: All smartphones owners aged 18-75 (1593)
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Unlocking the true smart in smartphone

Historically, smartphones were considered smart because beyond the mobile phones’ traditional voice call and SMS functionalities, the devices were enhanced with more computing power and wireless connectivity. This opened doors to features that before could only be found on a personal digital assistant or a computer – for example browsing the internet, reading and responding to email, editing documents, navigation, etc. With the booming popularity of smartphones, manufacturers and app developers are putting tremendous efforts into bringing the smartphone’s intelligence to the next level. Machine learning, assistant apps, fingerprint readers and facial recognition are great examples of the potential for smartphones to become truly smart devices. Machine learning is the process by which computers can get better at performing tasks through the exposure to data rather than through explicit programming. At the basis of artificial intelligence, machine learning is an increasingly popular topic. In the context of smartphones, machine learning is the process where the device and its apps leverage usage data to customise applications for the user. For example, machine learning can help to type faster by predicting the next words based on patterns found in previously sent messages. It can also help a navigation app to predict when it is time to go to the office based on location history, and push a reminder accordingly. Several other data points are also commonly used as inputs for machine learning, including app usage history, common numbers called/texted, photographs taken, etc. Our survey indicated that a majority (59 per cent) of users are ignoring this background data collection activity and accept terms and conditions without reading (see Figure 16).

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Many apps already incorporate some form of machine learning. 75 per cent of the surveyed smartphone users are aware of at least one feature on their phone that incorporates machine learning (see Figure 17). About 60 per cent of smartphone users use at least one machine learning feature. However, taken individually, awareness of each machine learning feature is mostly around 20 per cent and 30 per cent, and usage between 5 per cent and 15 per cent. Adoption of mobile machine learning is therefore still at its infancy in Belgium. The best-known and most used machine learning-based feature is predictive text. But despite this, less than half of respondents are aware of the availability of predictive text, and only one in three believe they use it. Predictive text has widespread opportunities, as text entry is core in smartphone usage. It is amongst others used in instant messaging, text messaging, email, and social networks. Most of these apps are used on a daily basis. The second best-known feature is route suggestion. Just over one in three are aware of the availability of route suggestion, but only 22 per cent use it. The third best-known feature is automated news or information updates. 29 per cent are aware of its availability, and 16 per cent use it. Another machine learning feature is voice assistance, which is mainly used in assistant apps (such as Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, Cortana and Bixby). Although 28 per cent is aware of its availability, only 9 per cent use it.
So, what about fingerprint and facial recognition? While adoption of facial recognition is still in its very infancy, fingerprint reading has progressively been taking up over the last few years. Last year for example, only 19 per cent of smartphones had fingerprint readers. Today, 33 per cent of smartphones have one (see Figure 18). 67 per cent of smartphone owners that have a fingerprint reader also use this technology. This corresponds to 22 per cent of the smartphone population. Amongst those who use their fingerprint reader, the most common uses are: unlocking their device (93 per cent), logging into apps (46 per cent), authorising payments (42 per cent), and authorising money transfers (25 per cent).

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Relevant charts
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Reading terms and conditions
59%
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of smartphone users accept app terms and conditions without reading them
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Presence and usage of fingerprint readers
33%
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of smartphones have a fingerprint reader, of which 67% use it
Presence
Usage
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Awareness and usage of applications featuring machine learning among respondents aged 18-75
46%
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The best-known and most used machine-learning based feature is predictive text
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Nearly 60 per cent (almost) always accept terms and conditions about data usage without reading them.
The most common machine learning applications, as of 2017, are:
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Predictive text: the smartphone predicts the remainder of the current word, or next words, to be typed. It may also correct grammar or accents
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Route suggestions: the smartphone suggests the quickest route for the user to get to his destination and updates this dynamically during the journey
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Automated news or information updates: the smartphone shows news, weather, financial updates, etc. based on previous articles read or searches made
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Voice assistant: a more sophisticated variant of voice search; the best known services include Apple’s Siri voice recognition software, Google’s OK, Google and Microsoft’s Cortana
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Voice search: speaking a search, rather than typing
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Translation apps: the smartphone translates via an app, such as Google Translate. Inputs can be spoken, typed or photographed
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Automated calendar entries: the smartphone suggests events to add to the device’s calendar based on the content of emails and other messages received
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Automated photo classification: photos on a phone can be sorted by type (such as people, selfies, animals) or by theme (food, scenery, flowers)
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Voice-to-text: dictation, instead of typing
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Email classification: emails are automatically sorted by theme such as retail, promotions, social, retail, personal, financial, etc.
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Location-based app suggestions: the smartphone suggests useful apps when in a location where they can be used, e.g. Apple Pay mobile payments solution/Android Pay when in a shop that allows to pay with them, an airline app when at the airport, Starbucks app when near a Starbucks, etc.
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App suggestions: the smartphone suggests which of the apps on a device a user may wish to open or use based on the time of day. For example, weather and radio apps may be suggested first thing in the morning. This removes the chore of finding the app
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Reading terms and conditions

Question: How often, if at all, do you accept terms and conditions without reading them?
Weighted base: All smartphone owners aged 18-75 (1593)
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Awareness and usage of applications featuring machine learning among respondents aged 18-75

Question: Which of the following features/apps do own and/or use on your smartphone?
Weighted base: All smartphone owners aged 18-75 (1593)
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Presence of the fingerprint reader

Question: Does your mobile have a fingerprint reader?
Weighted base: All smartphone owners aged 18-75: 1593
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Usage of the fingerprint reader

Question: How do you use your fingerprint reader?
Weighted base: All smartphone owners aged 18-75: 1593
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