Eight out of 10 smartphone consumers have problems accessing content, according to Xiam discovery research (PDF). The findings are based survey of over 400 UK and US smartphone users. (Since comparing networks across countries is not apples to apples, I’ll focus strictly on the US users). The major problem is that content is slow to load and/or is hard to find. Sixty-one percent of smartphone users reported this problem, while fifty-seven percent had phone/interface issues and 11 percent had payment issues. Twenty-seven percent of the time, they couldn’t find what they’re looking for.

Obviously, network speed is the major barrier to better, and more frequent, smartphone use.

Respondents said that they would spend over $9 more per month on purchases if content were easier to access, increasing monthly spending from the current $5.30 to $16.10. They also indicated that they would also spend over an hour more per week accessing content.

Other interesting things in the report:

Ninety percent of smartphone users download content. The most popular download categories are apps, which 73 percent of users download, followed by ringtones (58 percent) and video (57 percent).

Forty percent of users have paid to download content in the past six months.

The top five sites visited by smartphone owners are Google, Yahoo!, wireless service provider, Weather.com and Facebook. Interestingly, MySpace is in the mix, as it is the 10th most visited site.

The type of content most often accessed is weather, followed by maps, social networking sites, games and news/sports.

Customers on average spend $4 dollars more per month on content that is referred by friends, as opposed to content that is found through search. Recommendation-based spending is $10 a month, while search-based is $6 per month.

Consumers who receive customized recommendations download and spend more.

By Mark Alvarez