College Students and Adults are Savvy Yet Skeptical About New Communications Services, According to Recent IDC Focus Groups

FRAMINGHAM, MA – APRIL 25, 2000 – IDC's Residential Telecom, Wireless, and Branding research teams recently probed college students and adult consumers in recent focus groups to glean their perspectives on communications services covering everything from wireless applications, handset preferences, interest in free ad-based services, to usage of the Internet and Web portals. Some of the highlights include:

— Wireless Internet — Adults appeared to be intrigued by a few specific wireless Internet applications, such as driving directions and comparison shopping.

— Landline replacement — Both college students and adults would be more interested in axing their landline phones if wireless pricing structures were similar to local landline service.

— High-speed Internet access — Although college students and adults are moderately aware that high-speed options are emerging, most do not distinguish among the different options. There was particularly low awareness of the "always-on" feature of DSL and cable modem services.

— Homepages — There was significant interest in the theory of a custom homepage, though many knew such services were already available and were not using them.

— Online shopping — Although adults were generally more receptive to the idea of buying goods online, both college students and adults voiced genuine concerns about ecommerce – both from a security and logistical perspective.

— Free long distance calling — Unlike their mistrust of "hidden" costs in "too good to be true" dial around pitches, the interest in ad-based offerings was higher largely because they understood the "catch."

— Internet call waiting — Few consumers were aware Internet call waiting services existed, but adults and college students were quite interested in them.

"Among the host of revelations that arose from these groups was that consumers are both aware of new offerings and deeply cynical," said Iain Gillott, vice president of Worldwide Consumer and Small Business Telecom for IDC, who moderated all four groups. "Overall, college students and adults appear to be surprisingly savvy about the growing array of new telecommunications services; however, they are often diehard skeptics who won't buy into new offerings until they've been re-educated on the benefits of the service."

IDC will produce a complete analysis of the opportunities presented in these sessions in a series of reports based on these focus groups. If you are interested in purchasing any of the reports or would like more information, contact Jon Guloyan at 508-935-4296 or

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