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From Newsweek

Despite America's iPhone Obsession, We're Behind the World's Mobile Calling Curve

Despite our noisy fascination with iPhones and iPads, it turns out the United States is one of the least advanced places in the world when it comes to the way we use mobile devices. That is the conclusion of a new study by Sybase 365, which provides services for mobile messaging and mobile commerce.

In fact, when it comes to using mobile devices for things like text messaging and instant messaging, the survey indicates we’re getting blown away. Only 31.5 percent of people in the United States use a mobile device for text messaging and sending IMs—while in China 90 percent of people surveyed use mobile devices for those things.

“The snapshot view is that you have Asia ahead on almost every metric, and the U.S. kind of catching up,” says Marty Beard, president of Sybase 365, which is based in Dublin, Calif.

For more advanced things like mobile commerce, the U.S. also ranks near the bottom among 16 countries included in the survey, which polled 4,100 people in Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Only 12.9 percent of users in the U.S. said they make use of mobile commerce services. In China the figure was almost four times that amount, at 49.2 percent. Across all of Asia, 34 percent of people surveyed said they use mobile devices for banking, versus only 13 percent in the United States. Asian customers are also more likely to make payments with their mobile phones than are Americans.

“Worldwide, mobile banking and mobile payments are absolutely exploding. They’re the fastest growing part of our business,” Beard says.

Why are we lagging behind? One reason, simply put, is that here in the United States we’re stuck with a legacy infrastructure, and in the developing world they’re starting from scratch. “They didn’t have the broadband infrastructure that we do, and didn’t have the PCs,” Beard says. Ironically, this has enabled them to roll out new systems that leapfrog over what ours can do.

There’s also the issue of habit. People in the United States have grown accustomed to doing banking online via the personal computer. In the developing world people are less likely to have PCs, so they’ve gone straight to the mobile phone as their platform of choice.

Beard expects the United States will catch up over time, as banks adopt the technology needed to deliver mobile commerce services, and people shift from PCs to mobile devices as their primary computer platform. The survey also indicated high interest in mobile commerce services in the United States.

“We expect the United States is going to catch up,” says Diarmuid Mallon, senior product marketing manager at Sybase 365. “When you look at the results what you really see is that the United States represents a huge opportunity. Build it, and people will come.”

For now, alas, we remain in a strange position. We might make the coolest phones in the world, like Apple’s iPhone, but when it comes to using them, we’re the laggards of the world.

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