Fri, 23 Feb 2001

Cell phones a 'necessity': Survey

JAKARTA (JP): Contrary to the popular belief that mobile phone users are spendthrift, impolite, and fashion-driven, a recent study of the behavior of mobile phone users by Germany-based mobile phone manufacturer Siemens revealed just the opposite.

Sarlito W. Sarwono, dean of the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Indonesia, said on Thursday that mobile phone users in Indonesia were in fact quite rational in their usage, care very much about how much airtime they use, and are discreet in their use of mobile phones.

The study by the Faculty of Psychology and the Asia Market Intelligence (AMI), revealed that out of 210 Indonesian respondents, 62 percent are careful about airtime costs, and 83 percent keep conversations short and to the point, he said.

"Some 80 percent of respondents turn off their cellular phones or turn off the sound when in movie theaters, and 72 percent do not answer the phone while at an important event," Sarlito said in a media conference here.

Furthermore, he said that 63 percent of respondents said they don't use their mobile phones when there's a fixed phone nearby, and 91.4 percent said they discipline their usage of the short message service to less than 10 messages a day.

"They are also not as fashion-driven as we thought," Sarlito said, explaining that only 15.2 percent of respondents said they change mobile phones to match their pop idol's choice.

However, Sarlito said that the study revealed that the mobile phone has become a necessity instead of a luxury.

This was proven by the fact that 93 percent of respondents said their mobile phones accompany them during holidays.

70.5 percent respondents said they feel good when carrying their cell phones, and 54.3 percent revealed that they never leave their mobile phones out of sight.

"Some 39 percent of respondents even said they've taken calls while on the toilet," Sarlito said.

The survey by Singapore-based AMI was conducted in January from 4,995 respondents in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore. While the survey by the University of Indonesia was undertaken between Feb. 15 and Feb. 17 from 210 respondents in specific places like universities, offices, and malls.

The study by the University of Indonesia also revealed some interesting facts.

Sarlito said that the majority of those who don't switch off their mobile phones in movie theaters are in fact housewives (52 percent), and those above the age of 46 (55.6 percent).

Those who are never seen without their mobile phones consist of mainly blue-collar workers (73 percent) and students (70 percent), while those who tend to forget where they put them are housewives at 65.5 percent, he said. (tnt)