The Decline of the Dongle

New research from YouGov’s DongleTrack study reveals that the likelihood to purchase a mobile broadband device has fallen to its lowest level yet. Only 7 per cent of the population will consider buying a mobile broadband device in the future. This is only half the figure a year ago, when14 per cent of the population said they would considered buying a dongle or other mobile broadband device, such as a modem stick, data card, netbook or laptop with integrated mobile broadband. Likelihood to purchase was at its highest at 20 per cent when these devices first entered the mainstream market back in 2008. YouGov surveyed 3,914 adults, of whom 2,022 used mobile broadband by means of a dongle, modem stick, or datacard, between 12 and 18 January, 2011.

The relative demise of the dongle is primarily due to the emergence of smartphones and newer access devices such as tablets. Products that are easier to use, more intuitive and more keenly priced are rapidly driving online internet access, says YouGov.

The latest findings from YouGov’s DongleTrack report indicate that those mobile broadband users that also own a smartphone use mobile broadband far less than the phone. The most recent wave of research reveals that 43 per cent use their smartphone more than their mobile broadband device and only 6 per cent use their dongle-based mobile broadband in preference to a smartphone.

Additionally, the latest wave of research from YouGov’s Smartphone Mobile Internet Experience tracker (SMIX) shows that smartphone penetration continues to grow. 35 per cent of the online population now own a smartphone, with penetration close to doubling since the first wave of SMIX research back in December 2009 when smartphone penetration was at 18 per cent.

60% of non-smartphone owners say that their next handset will be a smartphone, while 97 per cent of existing smartphone owners say that their next phone will also be a smartphone.  And amongst current smartphone owners, 97% will get a smartphone next time.

“The dongle-based broadband market still has a loyal, often business-focussed user base, but with an increase in wi-fi availability and the emergence of competing access devices that offer greater portability, it is likely that the dongle will continue to decline in relative importance,” notes Russell Feldman, associate director for technology and telecoms consulting at YouGov.

The latest wave of results from YouGov’s TabletTrack study, which surveys tablet usage, attitudes and satisfaction, reveals that almost one in eight of the population (12 per cent) are keen to get a tablet, with the Apple iPad being the tablet of choice. Interestingly, most of the respondents who intend to get an iPad are after the 3G model which competes directly with mobile broadband devices.