Signature Smartphone Owners in the Era of “Me,
Myself and I.”
Elaine B. Coleman, Ph.D.
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Published October 2009. © 2009 Interpret, LLC
Signature Smartphone Owners in the Era of “Me, Myself and I.”
Catalyst: Manufacturers have introduced a wide range of personalization options which have been
enthusiastically embraced by signature smartphone owners. What bears a deeper understanding is the
relationship between specific handsets and the type of customization experience their owners favor the
1) To what extent do consumers personalize their signature smartphones?
2) What customization options are most popular?
3) What can vendors learn from signature smartphone owners and their customization
Interpret Insight: Consumers have moved beyond the brand and color of their phone, and now they
either want to purposefully show off or indirectly reveal their preferences to others. Interpret’s
MobileTrax shows that two-thirds of smartphone owners have personalized their mobile device. In
addition, their smartphone ownership is dictating their preferred type of customization. It appears that
certain signature smartphones beckon users to engage in a more private personalization of features,
while others encourage a more public customization of the actual device.
Signature smartphone owners want an individualized experience from their mass market devices.
Programs such as myFaves, social portals such as MySpace and brands such as the iPhone or myTouch
put heavy emphasis on customization on the individual level. Their unique applications and flexible
structures allow consumers an opportunity to differentiate themselves among friends, co-workers or
family members. With platforms that allow easier customization, 66% of signature smartphone owners
report having personalized their phones after purchase. They increasingly want to modify their mobile
device to suit their particular aesthetic, protective or informational needs.
With consumers placing more importance on the capability and ease of customization, vendors should
more strongly consider a key metric for themselves and carriers to consider when finalizing portfolio
options. Consumers who look to customize their phone are more likely to purchase accessories or
More handsets can better strike the optimal balance in the personalization effort.
No single customization format was a runaway success with consumers. Overall, they recalled
customizing the font types and menu structures of their phone the most. However, decorating the
phone with a cover/jacket and widgets was also popular with smartphone owners. Notably, one of the
most common ways to personalize one’s computer—the screensaver—scored the lowest in terms of
occurrence among smartphone owners, at just 31%. Smartphone owners appear to have less