oa South African Journal of Information Management - Uses and gratifications of mobile Internet among South African students : peer reviewed article

Volume 10 Number 3
  • ISSN : 2078-1865
  • E-ISSN: 1560-683X



Mobile Internet is a relatively new innovation. Many see mobile Internet as a way of providing for those who cannot afford the traditional means of accessing the Internet (International Telecommunications Union 2004). Although much research has been conducted on the adoption of related technologies such as mobile phone and m-commerce, little focus has been placed on mobile Internet. This is particularly true for South Africa (SA). There is, therefore, a lack of understanding on how and why people use the technology. The purpose of this research, therefore, was to investigate how and why people use mobile Internet. This study focused on the SA market.The topic for the study required the authors to define the term 'mobile Internet'. Mobile Internet can best be descriptionbed as a means of 'wireless access to the digitized contents of the Internet via mobile phones' (Chae and Kim 2003). When the Internet is accessed, a request is sent by an Internet browser to a Web server, which responds by sending the information to display on a screen (Beal 2006). Since voice calls and SMSs do not query Web servers, they cannot be classified as mobile Internet. There are four main ways of using mobile Internet : e-mail, access to general information, instant messaging services, voice-over-Internet-protocol.Mobile phones offer a wide variety of functionality, however, this research was only confined to mobile Internet functionality. This included use of the mobile Internet for communication, entertainment and information purposes. It specifically excluded m-commerce as this is a topic on its own. In addition, the focus was on mobile Internet access that is provided by mobile phones and not other mobile devices such as PDAs. This limitation allows for the words 'mobile' and 'cell phone' to be used interchangeably.Uses and gratification (U&G) was used as the underpinning theoretical framework for the study. U&G allows for investigating the motivations for consumption of media products. It is noted that there is a dearth of U&G studies focusing on mobile Internet. The research instrument for the study was therefore based on U&G studies on related technologies such as traditional Internet as well as mobile phones. This allowed an investigation into the gratifications obtained from using mobile Internet and the intersection of motivations for using the traditional Internet and those from using mobile telephony.

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