Concentration of Smartphone Application Use and Mobile Divide

TitleConcentration of Smartphone Application Use and Mobile Divide
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Jung, J., Y. Kim, E. Lee, and Y. Chung
Affiliation (1st Author)KAIST
Section or WGDigital Divide Working Group
DateThurs 27 June
Slot CodeDIVT4a
Slot Code (Keyword)DIVT4a
Time of Session16:00-17:30
RoomQ158
Session TitleDiscursive Constructions of the Digital Divide
Submission ID5151
Abstract

This study attempts to examine the degree of concentration in smartphone application use and potential mobile divide with the case of Korea. The Korea Communication Commission predicts that its country would see the highest smartphone penetration rate in the world due to the country’s well-built wireless network system, abundant handset choices, and a cultural propensity toward ICT products. The diffusion of smartphones in South Korea might provide an excellent context for examining the patterns of smartphone use and for deriving insights on the potential trajectory. Although smartphone owners have numerous choices, their limited time and personal needs are likely to lead to certain app selection behavior. Such usage patterns have significant implications on how the mobile industry might evolve as it matures. Analyzing smartphone users’ application use behavior may elucidate consumers’ choices in a multi-choice, mobile media environment.Using the tracking data of 1,645 smartphone users for one month, this study examines the pattern of smartphone application use in South Korea. For the analysis of concentration of specific category of applications, we selected applications related to the function of communications and media. To achieve the face validity of the classification, 25 professors and graduate students were consulted to check agreement in the categorization system for the communication- and media-related apps. The final app categories were communication, social media, news, entertainment, and games.Traditional measurements used in media studies such as HHI and CR, and the share of Pareto principle shown by the Lorenz curve and Gini coefficient were calculated to ensure reliability in measuring the degree of concentration in application use. Among the five different categories, communication apps showed the most severely skewed concentration in every measurement. Top 20% of applications caused 97.7% of total time spent in communication applications category. Other index such as, CR, HHI, and Gini coefficient also showed the highest degree of concentration. Following communication category, social media revealed similar level of high concentration in every measurement. Thus, we can infer that the characteristic of network externality and interaction between users highly motivates the use of the same application in each category.The findings from this study align well with what we have learned from previous studies. User concentration that accelerates richer get richer is consistent in this study. It surpassed the general 80,,20 rule of Pareto principle. Although the majority of smartphone users are heavily using a certain application in communication or social media, some are lagged in the use of applications. Bridging the mobile divide will be the central issue in near future, because not only smartphone but also other mobile devices such as tablet PC or e-reader spreads out rapidly in the society. Particularly, increasing the ability in utilizing the functions of the mobile devices beyond the simple ownership or access will be a key approach in bridging the mobile divide.

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