Wi-Fi Now Expected in Retail Outlets, its Availability Is Often Deciding Factor in Hotel Selection, Mobile Payment Still Not Mainstream
SAN BRUNO, Calif., February 14, 2012 — Devicescape, the leader in Wi-Fi offload services, today unveiled results from its fourth quarter 2011 Wi-Fi Report, which further underscore Wi-Fi’s pervasiveness and reach into consumers’ everyday lives. More than 1296 Devicescape members of all ages, professions and locations participated in the survey, offering their opinions on topics ranging from availability of Wi-Fi in retail stores to the role it plays in travel.
Key findings from the “Q4 2011 Devicescape Wi-Fi Report” showed:
- Devicescape offload network achieved 10x growth through the end of 2011 with 5.6 million curated hotspots.
- Wi-Fi offload rates exceeded 40 percent throughout the 4th quarter.
- Device connections to the offload network reached a high of 12.7 million connections per day during the 4th quarter.
- Over 81 percent of respondents say that they would be more likely to visit a retail store if their device could automatically connect to Wi-Fi upon entering the store.
- Respondents would likely use free Wi-Fi in a retail establishment for price checking (63 percent), online comparison shopping (58 percent) and access to product reviews (51 percent), among others.
- Almost 65 percent of respondents want to receive coupons and other promotions via their smartphone once connected.
- Forty-six percent of respondents are still not comfortable with their mobile devices being used as a “digital wallet” to pay for items at a store checkout.
- Wi-Fi stands out as a determining factor when respondents are selecting a method of travel: Almost 61 percent would choose one method of transportation over another based on Wi-Fi and Internet connectivity.
- Seventy-eight percent of respondents would choose a hotel based on free Wi-Fi availability; 74 percent would choose low-cost lodging over luxury lodging to take advantage of free Wi-Fi.
- A majority (63 percent) of respondents would like their mobile device to connect automatically whenever traveling through a hotspot.
Network growth outpaces industry expectations
The Devicescape Offload Network has been growing at breakneck speed in the past year. Starting 2011 with a half a million hotspots, the curated network grew 10x to end the year with 5.6 million hotspots. The network is continuously finding access points daily and through our patented validation process, assessing each location to verify its quality and use.
Average offload rates throughout the quarter exceeded 40% depending on geography
With millions of devices connected to the curated virtual network, a daily high of 12.7 million device connections occurred during the 4th quarter. As more and more hotspots are discovered and more Devicescape capable devices are released, the number of connections should also continue to grow quarterly.
Consumer Demand While Shopping
Shopping is arguably a favorite pastime the world over, so it seems only natural that Wi-Fi be available at retail establishments to satisfy shoppers’ needs for data connectivity. This quarter’s survey results indicate this expectation is gaining a following. In fact, the majority (81 percent) of respondents indicated they would be more likely to visit a shopping center or retail store if their device was automatically connected to Wi-Fi when they entered the establishment. How they would use free Wi-Fi in a retail environment varied, ranging from price checking (63 percent), online comparison shopping (58 percent) and reading product reviews (51 percent) to accessing in-store deals/coupons (46 percent) and purchasing items through a mobile device (26 percent). Reflecting the current popularity of Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and the like, 47 percent of respondents indicated they would also use Wi-Fi in a retail environment for social media purposes.
Free Wi-Fi in a retail environment also means savvier shoppers. Until now, the online (home) shopper could spend hours comparison shopping and checking prices among a variety of vendors without having to travel. This convenience is now brought to shoppers frequenting brick-and-mortar establishments, as they can access applications such as Amazon Mobile to compare against in-store prices.
Using a smartphone as a “digital wallet” is also garnering interest. The majority (53 percent) of respondents would use their Wi-Fi connected device to pay for items at the store checkout.
Free Availability Trumps Luxury
As we’ve seen in past Wi-Fi Reports, Wi-Fi connectivity while traveling is expected, regardless of location. This quarter’s results indicate that free Wi-Fi availability is a deciding factor even before embarking on a trip. In fact, the majority (60 percent) of respondents will select a method of transportation based on Wi-Fi and Internet connectivity. An even larger percentage (78 percent) indicates that Wi-Fi availability affects hotel choice.
Perhaps most surprising is that staying connected for free seems to outweigh a desire for luxury or high-end amenities. When given the choice to stay at low-cost lodging that provides free Wi-Fi vs. a medium to high-end hotel that charges for Wi-Fi access, 74 percent of respondents say they would opt for the former. Almost 96 percent feel all hotels, regardless of brand, should provide their customers with free Wi-Fi.
“‘Wi-Fi’s performance and connectivity benefits make it a popular choice among mobile device users, as evidenced by our quarterly reports,” said Dave Fraser, CEO of Devicescape. “Expectations and demand for Wi-Fi connectivity in a variety of locations are growing because, frankly, users have discovered that Wi-Fi is integral to simplifying and streamlining our everyday lives.”
Devicescape, The WiFi Offload Company™, connects more devices to more WiFi hotspots than any other offload service because Devicescape manages the largest virtual network of hotspots worldwide. Devicescape, which has been serving mobile operators with advanced WiFi solutions since 2001, is headquartered in California, privately held by leading venture capital companies including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, August Capital, Enterprise Partners and Jafco. Online at www.devicescape.com.