This is a question many people still can’t answer, according to a study conducted by the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association.

The study of mobile phone user behaviour and, particularly, the take up of 3G, had almost 4000 respondents ranging between nine and 70 years of age. When asked whether they had a 3G phone, around 11 percent said yes, 26 percent said they simply didn’t know if they did or didn’t, and some thought 3G referred to the phone’s memory size (three gigabytes). Many respondents also thought the ‘3’ mobile network is the same thing as 3G.

In terms of users’ approach to downloading information and content, the study found that most people (unsurprisingly) still see their mobiles primarily as a device for making phone calls and don’t care about content. The research found that 16 percent of respondents find it useful to access information and content on their mobiles, but only 10 percent actually enjoy doing so.

When questioned about whether the results of the study should excite mobile content investors or not, author of the study, Dr Marisa Maio Mackay, was sceptical.

“I argue that the content market as we know it has plateaued – that doesn’t mean that there’s no market for content, what it means though, is that the way we look at the content market has to change. The reality is that people are accessing content, but they are not necessarily paying for it. We have to change the model and perhaps consider things like third party-advertising models. The content market as we know it is changing and there are still great opportunities there, it’s just the way we think about the delivery of content might need to be revisited.”

The study found that the top four mobile carriers had not changed since the last study, with Optus in the number one spot, followed by Telstra, Vodafone and 3. This year’s study also asked users which telco they would prefer to be with and Vodafone was found to be the preferred telco.

Co-author, Oliver Weidlich said 3 Mobile network customers were found to like and use content more than customers of other carriers, Optus customers tended to use their mobiles just for phone calling whilst Telstra customers were “Not too sure what content is all about.”

Interestingly, the study also revealed that only 12 percent of users said they would definitely or probably buy a 3G phone in the next six months. But their main reason for doing so was the need to buy a new phone anyway, rather than a need for all the applications 3G allows.

Based on their results, the researchers predicted that future mobile content purchases would be games, ring tones, maps and directions, weather, and news content.

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