Majority happy to use phones to vote, report finds

Three report finds phones have transformed from productivity tools to life-enhancing devices

Three business director Eoin MacManus

Three business director Eoin MacManus


Mobile operator Three’s latest Connected Ireland Report reveals a growing desire to use mobile phones for activities like voting, accessing public services, and shopping, while trust in mobile phone security for banking and bill-splitting apps is high at 71 per cent.

Conducted by Amárach Research among 1,000 smartphone users in the Republic, Connected Ireland is a quarterly research report that examines the ways in which mobile technology is changing how we interact with each other, businesses and government, and how the Irish public wants mobile services to develop in the future.

“This is the third instalment in a four-part series that is aimed at offering a greater understanding of people’s attitudes towards and usage of mobile phones,” says Three business director Eoin MacManus. “We looked at three distinct perspectives: how individuals interact with their mobile phones in their daily lives, how they use them as tools for work and trade, and for interaction with public services and government.”

One of the key findings was how the smartphone is now becoming more than just a productivity tool. “Mobile phones have become life-enhancing tools,” says MacManus. “We are seeing a wide variety of uses. Fifty-three per cent use map apps, 46 per cent use weather apps. Demand for TV-streaming apps such as Netflix is also strong with 37 per cent using them while food delivery apps like Just Eat and Deliveroo were used by 22 per cent of respondents.”

Data consumption

He points to the life-enhancing potential of map apps. “Navigation is becoming smarter and Google Maps can offer you alternative routes home depending on traffic and other conditions,” he says.

“People are cottoning on to that. But it is still used as a phone and communications device, of course. What’s interesting in there is that only 35 per cent of people say they start a communication with a phone call, instant messaging apps come in at 33 per cent, and text messaging is down at 25 per cent. Voice calls are only about equal to instant messaging now.”

These apps all consume data, more than many people think. When asked how much they thought their data usage had grown over the past year the average increase was 15 per cent while the figure was 37 per cent for overseas data usage since the introduction of free data roaming under EU rules. “In fact, our own network stats show that it was actually 220 per cent overall. Mobile phone usage is becoming more and more data centric and this will only increase with the advent of 5G. The message to the industry is that it will have to offer the data that people need if they want to keep pace with their customers.”

When it comes to connected business, there was a very interesting finding in relation to people’s willingness to pay for apps. “Between 60 and 70 per cent of people would prefer to not pay for an app and receive ads instead. Only 22 per cent on average say they would pay €1 and this falls to single digits for a payment of between €5 and €10. This means the monetisation of a service or app by charging for it may not be a viable business model after all.”

Equally if not more interesting is the attitude towards so-called “influencers”. These bloggers and vloggers build up quite extraordinary numbers of online followers and monetise their popularity through paid endorsements. But those followers appear to be keenly aware of that financial imperative.

“Three quarters of respondents say they don’t trust celebrity or influencer endorsements,” MacManus notes. “And just one fifth of participants admit that they have actually bought something as a result of a recommendation from a blogger they follow online.”


There is also a message for companies which pay for collaborations with social media stars. When it comes to brand trust, 38 per cent of those who follow influencers say they ignore posts which are marked as being paid promotions.

The other area looked at was interaction with government. “People like to connect using mobile technology,” says MacManus. “Seven in 10 would like to see more adoption of mobile as a way of interacting with government. Seventy-seven per cent are open to getting text message or app alerts about local emergencies such as flooding or fallen trees. Three quarters would value a service which issues traffic alerts about specific locations and 67 per cent would like a service which allowed them to send a photo of suspicious people or cars in the local area to authorities.”

Even more interesting in light of the electronic voting debacle of the early part of this century is the fact that 54 per cent of respondents would be happy to vote online in general elections, referendums and so on. “This attitude is much more prevalent in younger people,” MacManus notes. “There is no technological impediment to voting. If you can do online banking securely, you can do online voting. It’s an attitudinal issue.”