A mobile phone that doesn’t work is worse than a paperweight. But for most smart phone users, it now appears a mobile phone that cannot provide access to content is pretty close to a paperweight as well, according to a survey by PwC. Key mobile use cases

In fact, 98 percent of users say their mobile must support communication activities, as you would suspect. But 51 percent also say that among the most-important activities on their mobiles are getting news, sports or weather information.

About 43 percent indicate that interacting with their social networks is a top activity, while 49 percent report “finding a place” (map apps and directions) is a key activity. Add it all up and one might make the argument that smart phones are used as often, if not more, for content consumption than for communications.

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One might also make the observation that there is a difference between “required functionality” and “product value.” Basically, people just assume a phone will work for communications, as they assume a smart phone can be used to access web-based services, and will support mobile apps.

Beyond satisfying those basic and required functions, most of the reasons any user buys a particular device and service will hinge on all the other factors that are key parts of the experience. The price of the device, the recurring costs of service, the perceived quality of the network and the “look and feel” of a particular device are likely the deciding factors.

At some level, that also illustrates the key roles devices now play in “making tangible” the value of a communications and content consumption device. People just assume the devices will communicate. All other choices about devices and service providers are driven by the device attributes and the terms and conditions of service.

That isn’t to say perceived network quality is unimportant. But that is sort of a baseline function that can cause unhappiness, more than a positive source of differentiation. In other words, the fact that a network “works” is only what users expect.

That can be a source of “dissatisfaction,” but rarely will be a source of “happiness.”

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