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Survey: Traditional communication, patience still strong

March 13, 2010  »  StatisticsNo Comment

SMS is gaining popularity as a news source, but is still secondary to radio, TV, and word-of-mouth

A recent study of Ghana’s overall culture, including Internet adoption and practices, provides some interesting insights into communications trends and how citizens use mobile phones and the Internet. Balancing Act Africa recently summarized some of the more interesting results:

  • mobile users still prefer voice calls over SMS – those who understood English were more likely that others to use SMS features
  • 3% mobile users had accessed the internet at least once/week
  • 16% received news/info via SMS – within 2 years this should surpass print media, although both face language barriers
  • radio, TV, and word of mouth are still much more common than text messaging
  • 75% of non-Internet users cited cost as a factor preventing them from using a form of Internet

The language and cost barriers do not come as much of a surprise and will continue to be challenges impeding a spread of Internet penetration. However, the more interesting discovery is the high percentage of Ghanaian Internet users who view rich media despite bandwidth constraints. A minority of respondents have sufficient network speeds to enjoy instant streaming video, yet anywhere from 15% to 45% (depending if the respondents perform more than one activity):

  • Watch/download videos
  • Play games
  • Visit social networking sites

These results are indeed surprising, and remind those of us with fast connections how important patience is when surfing the Web. Still, the findings can be rationalized with some thought. The key ideas are patience and planning (and maybe multi-tasking). Online videos do take time to load, but the user can perform other offline tasks (ie. write emails) while waiting for a video to buffer/download. After all, multi-tasking is a side-effect of the computer age. Or, a user can loaded news articles and read them while attempting to load the video. Secondly, the online games this survey refers to are not the graphic-intensive games that require massive graphics cards. They are probably online flash games that are not that large in size. These games simply load and play. The same multi-tasking and pre-planning rules apply here as well. Finally, social networks may require time to load due to the massive number of pageviews involved in a visit, or as a result of digital photographs. In this case, the social enjoyment outweighs the wait time. It’s a simple as that.