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Devicescape, Intel and Meraki Unveil Devicescape Broadband Wireless (Wi-Fi) Report Findings

8/24/09 - Devicescape unveiled its second quarterly Wi-Fi Report , revealing new insights into Wi-Fi usage and opinions from more than 1,000 survey respondents from around the world. The survey, conducted by Decipher, Inc. and sponsored by Devicescape, Intel and Meraki , queried a cross-section of Devicescape's members, a group that includes a variety of professionals and students.

Key findings from the Devicescape Wi-Fi Report showed:

  1. An overwhelming number of respondents (96 percent) expect device manufacturers to build Wi-Fi into devices such as cell phones, digital cameras and portable gaming devices.
  2. 93 percent of respondents stated they will make a buying decision based on built-in Wi-Fi.
  3. 90 percent of respondents make hotel and travel decisions based on the availability of Wi-Fi, and 96 percent expect it to be free.
  4. 72 percent of respondents are more likely to become tenants at apartment complexes that offer free Wi-Fi.
  5. 84 percent of users insist on hassle-free access to Wi-Fi, meaning no PIN or password.
  6. Intelligence is expected: 85 percent of people want their device to automatically switch between Wi-Fi and 3G networks based on what is best for the application.
  7. Free Wi-Fi is a "must have" for 53 percent of respondents.
  8. 98 percent of respondents log onto Wi-Fi daily; 57 percent of those log on more than five times a day.
  9. Wi-Fi users are willing to share their own networks if there is reciprocity, especially if there is some form of rating system in place.

Demand for services and device connectivity propels Wi-Fi ubiquity

Many findings from this quarter's survey parallel last quarter's -- a steady increase in the demand for Wi-Fi-enabled devices, continued expectations for manufacturers to build Wi-Fi into next-generation devices, and the ability for seamless transitions between Wi-Fi and 3G networks as needed. This quarter's survey findings also yielded insight into interesting new trends. Demand for services embedded onto chips and devices -- enabling technical assistance at hotspots, for example -- is on the rise. Wi-Fi connection for gaming devices and media players is following suit, with 48 percent of users connecting weekly.

"The smartphone and other intelligent devices have changed the game for device manufacturers and service providers alike. The volume of content downloaded, uploaded or streamed is increasing dramatically, as are demands for services like remote technical support," said John Tennant, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Intel Corporation. "Consequently, consumers are demanding easy and immediate access to Wi-Fi networks. We can only expect this demand to intensify as more and more services are developed and delivered."

A free "Wi-Fi Community" is a possibility

Also of note is the sense of community that Wi-Fi users seem to feel. Sixty percent of respondents would be willing to share their network with other Devicescape members, presumably to perpetuate Wi-Fi usage and ensure municipal hotspot availability. While the members will share their networks they demand some form of security much like the eBay user rating or the ability to block certain users.

Wi-Fi drives purchase decisions

From choosing next-generation consumer devices to what hotel to stay at and even what apartment complex to become a tenant, Wi-Fi drives purchasing decisions. An overwhelming number of survey respondents stated that Wi-Fi within a product will make or break their purchase decision. As Wi-Fi relates to travel, 90 percent of respondents expect Wi-Fi within their hotel. Furthermore, they will determine their next stay based on their Wi-Fi experience. More than 75% of respondents stated if they had a bad Wi-Fi experience, they would not be repeat customers.

"Whether for work, home, or travel, people demand Wi-Fi and are willing to make purchase decisions based on the availability of Wi-Fi," said Sanjit Biswas, CEO of Meraki. "Businesses which provide or enable high quality Wi-Fi access will increasingly gain new customers and grow loyalty from their existing customers and employees. In today's challenging times, Wi-Fi can be a great tool to grow and defend your business."

Continued barrier to Wi-Fi adoption

Despite the steady demand for Wi-Fi, many respondents still cite connectivity issues as a barrier to widespread adoption. For example, the survey reveals that when laptops failed to work remotely, the cause was most often due to the network connection (63 percent), as opposed to operating system issues (24 percent) or problems with the device itself (13 percent). Again, this data point mirrors last quarter's findings, which underscore the need for easy setup and seamless connectivity now that Wi-Fi is steadily gaining popularity.

"We see the Devicescape Wi-Fi Report as an invaluable tool to gather vital information from the most important people in the market -- the Wi-Fi user base itself," said Dave Fraser, Devicescape CEO. "By tapping into the opinions and usage habits of the Wi-Fi user base, we can help address critical issues and move toward a better Wi-Fi experience."

This is Devicescape's second report detailing consumer attitudes toward Wi-Fi and other high-bandwidth, wireless technologies. Devicescape will continue to deliver information about Wi-Fi usage and consumer behavior via The Devicescape Wi-Fi Report.

By Robert Hoskins

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