May 27, 2010, 1:43 PM

Ringtones and apps are top mobile buys, but electronics are a close second

53% of online consumers who own a mobile phone are carrying web- enabled phones, and 13% of them buy online from those handsets, a study from PriceGrabber says. The most common purchases are ringtones and apps and consumer electronics.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

53% of online consumers who own a mobile phone are carrying smartphones or web-enabled phones, and 13% of them buy online from such mobile devices, a new study from shopping comparison site PriceGrabber says. 10% bought online with their web-enabled phones last year.

The poll of 2,445 online shoppers that had made an online purchase from one of PriceGrabber’s 12,000 retailers between late March and early April found the most common mobile purchases are ringtones, apps and consumer electronics. 61% of mobile shoppers say they had bought a ringtone or app this year and 57% consumer electronics (not including laptops and related goods).  PriceGrabber says it caters to electronics enthusiasts, which may account for the relatively high percentage of purchases in this category.


Books came in third, purchased by 42% of the mobile shoppers; clothing was next with 34%, followed by computers, laptops or related equipment at 31% and jewelry at 16%.

32% of consumers who own web- enabled phones and do not use them to buy say they don’t purchase from their phones because the process takes too much time, PriceGrabber says. Other top reasons included that the transactions are too difficult to complete and that products are too difficult to find.


Of those consumers with a web-enabled phone, 35% participate in online shopping from their phones which includes not just buying but also comparing prices, and other shopping-related tasks. That’s compared to 17% last year. Consumers are using their web-capable phones to check prices
(22%) and research products (21%) That’s compared with 16% for both of those actions last year.

Consumers also see mobile technology in their future, the poll finds. Online consumers (with or without web-enabled phones) say they expect to be comparing prices (24%) and purchasing items from their mobile phones (22%) in the next 12 months.

For those in the market for a smartphone, the Apple iPhone is the most popular with 14% saying they will buy an iPhone in the next 12 months. That was followed by an Android phone (8%) and BlackBerry (7%). 65% said they were happy with their current phones.

Young adults are the most frequent online shoppers, PriceGrabber finds. Online shoppers ages 25 to 34 indicate they are more likely to purchase online from their web-enabled phones than any other age segment.


32% of smartphone owners polled say they bought their first smartphone last year, and 9% say they purchased their first in 2010.

Web-enabled mobile shopping is not all that’s on the rise, so too is access to faster 3G networks. 64% of consumers in the poll with mobile phones had phones compatible with a 3G network as compared to 48% last year.

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