Mobile

U.S. immigrant smartphone owners drive video calls

U.S. immigrants with smartphones account for a quarter of all video calls made on PCs or mobile phones, according to a new survey.

The survey suggests that roughly five million immigrants have placed video phone calls with PCs or smartphones, according to Rebtel, the world’s second-largest mobile internet calling company. That’s a sizable sample and it makes sense, considering the distance that separates immigrants and their loved ones. It also means that video call marketers would do well to target this demographic group in the future.

Normally, you wouldn’t consider immigrant populations to be the prime adopters of new technologies. The survey was based on responses from 1,340 immigrants living in the U.S., a small sample of the roughly 38 million people in the demographic group. About 24 percent of them said they owned a smartphone and used a video calling service on their PC or phone.

The vast majority of those surveyed preferred Skype as their video application of choice, with 47 percent saying they use it the most. Apple’s Facetime and Yahoo’s Messenger service came in second and third place, respectively, representing a total of 14 percent of users. Tango came in fourth at 8 percent.

The sexes had very different results in the survey. Skype was the No. 1 choice for 74 percent of immigrant women, while it was the No. 1 choice for only 42 percent of men. Rebtel believes that Skype’s heavy branding with Oprah Winfrey’s TV show — where Oprah does live video calls with some of her guests using Skype — could explain the difference.

Only 21 percent of those polled said they would pay a monthly fee to make video calls. Men were 1.5 times as likely to pay a fee than women, with 22 percent of males and only 14 percent of females saying they would pay a fee.

Of the immigrants in the study, those hailing from Cuba, Ethiopia, France, Ghana, India, Israel, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines and the United Kingdom ranked Skype as their preferred video calling application of choice. The study was conducted in November and released today.

Calling all mobile executives: This April 25-26, VentureBeat is hosting its inaugural VentureBeat Mobile Summit, where we’ll debate the five key business and policy challenges facing the mobile industry today. Participants will develop concrete, actionable solutions that will shape the future of the mobile industry. The invitation-only event, located at the scenic and relaxing Cavallo Point Resort in Sausalito, Calif., is limited to the top 180 mobile executives, investors and policymakers. Request an invitation.


Mobile developer or publisher? VentureBeat is studying mobile marketing automation. Fill out our 5-minute survey, and we'll share the data with you.