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Campus-Wide Information Systems
Students’ dependence on smart phones: The influence of social needs, social influences
and convenience
Norazah Mohd Suki
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Norazah Mohd Suki, (2013),"Students’ dependence on smart phones", Campus-Wide Information Systems,
Vol. 30 Iss 2 pp. 124 - 134
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CWIS
30,2
Students’ dependence on
smart phones
The influence of social needs, social
124 influences and convenience
Norazah Mohd Suki
Labuan School of International Business & Finance, Universiti Malaysia Sabah,
Labuan International Campus, Federal Territory of Labuan, Malaysia

Abstract
Downloaded by Universiti Malaysia Sabah At 19:26 11 April 2016 (PT)

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to assess whether social needs, social influences and
convenience of smart phones affects students’ dependence on them. This research also examines
whether students’ dependence on smart phones influences their purchase behaviour. This
investigation is conducted among the students in a public university in the Federal Territory of
Labuan, Malaysia.
Design/methodology/approach – The research used a multiple regression analysis in an attempt
to achieve the objective. The construct validity was assessed by computing the principal axis factor
with varimax rotations. In total, 200 completed and usable questionnaires were received from the
respondents who comprised students from a public university in the Federal Territory of Labuan,
Malaysia. A simple random sampling method was utilised where every unit in the population had an
equal chance to be selected.
Findings – Results via multiple regression analysis revealed that social needs and social influences
significantly affect students’ dependence on smart phones. The first was found to have the strongest
effect. A strong relationship also existed between dependence on smart phones and students’ purchase
behaviour.
Research limitations/implications – This study contributes significantly in confirming findings
from similar research that could furnish statistical evidence in research findings to the smart phone
provider in meeting customer needs to better create up-to-date smart phones with recent features
through strategic, holistic marketing management and planning.
Practical implications – This research should contribute significantly to academics and
educational developers in encouraging the students’ use of personal technologies such as smart
phones and tablet PCs to enhance their learning process. On the smart phone provider side, the
research findings could motivate them to continuously increase the smart phone functionality to be
more relevant to students. The fact that dependence on smart phones contributes significantly in the
students’ purchase behaviour may lead to better insights that they depend on the smart phone, which
causes them to feel insecure when it is not with them. Their positive experience with smart phones
outweighs their negative experience, as their usage of smart phones is high.
Originality/value – The research provides a unique perspective of students’ dependence on smart
phones, which is not much covered in the literature in the Malaysia context. The measurement
produced can be used as a research tool for more exploratory and explanatory research regarding
students’ use of personal technologies such as smart phones and tablet PCs.
Keywords Malaysia, Universities, Students, Consumer behaviour, Mobile technology, Social needs,
Social influence, Dependence, Smart phones, Purchase behaviour, Regression
Paper type Research paper

Campus-Wide Information Systems 1. Introduction


Vol. 30 No. 2, 2013
pp. 124-134 Smart phones are mobile phones with more advanced computing ability and
r Emerald Group Publishing Limited
1065-0741
connectivity that comprises of functions such as portable media players, low-end
DOI 10.1108/10650741311306309 compact digital cameras, pocket video cameras and global positioning system (GPS)
navigation units (http://mashable.com/follow/topics/smartphone/). The popular mobile Students’
operating systems (OS) installed in the smart phones include Apple’s iOS, Google’s dependence on
Android, Nokia’s Symbian and RIM’s BlackBerry OS. Smart phones have become
necessary for consumers and this has boosted the smart phone demand in the market. smart phones
With the popularity and functions offered in the smart phones, there has been an
increase in demand (Park and Chen, 2007). According to Smura et al. (2009), in most
developed countries, mobile phone have become an inseparable part of everyday life 125
and a majority of people carry them all the time.
It is noted by Jacob and Isaac (2008) that university students are among the
highest contributors to the increasing number of smart phone sales. The factor that
most influences the increase in smart phone usage is the functionality that helps
users in their daily life especially business people and university students. Hence,
this research aims to assess students’ dependence on smart phones and its impact
on their purchase behaviour. This research assess whether social needs, social
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influences and convenience of smart phones affects students’ dependence on them.


This research also examine whether students’ dependence on smart phones influences
their purchase behaviour. Research findings could furnish statistical evidence in
research findings to the smart phone provider in meeting customer needs to better
create up-to-date smart phones with recent features through strategic, holistic
marketing management and planning.

2. Literature review
Consumers have become highly dependent on smart phones which they can use when
they commute, relax at home, travel overseas and so on (Genova, 2010). Consumers are
perceived to be dependent on their smart phones when they view them as a necessity
and have strong propensity for continuous high usage, being engaged and unwilling to
part from them (Tian et al., 2009). Thus, consumers’ expectations for future purchase
behaviour will be affected by their past experience as they are heavily dependent
on smart phones because of the underlying motives (Kuhlmeier and Knight, 2005).
Suki and Suki (2007) found that heavy mobile phone users possess a higher level of
knowledge, have more social participation, maintain extensive interpersonal networks
and have contact with people not only within the social system but also outside it.
This is supported by Peterson and Low (2011) who stated that student look at
web sites, check their e-mail and use social networking sites such as Facebook and
Twitter most often.

2.1 Social needs


Social needs include love, affection, belonging and acceptance (Schiffman et al., 2009).
Smart phones significantly vary the way people live, shop, buy, research, play and
connect to the world (Goldman, 2010) besides developing and expanding a sense of
affection among one’s circle of friends and family members. Smart phone devices are
programmed with various software tools, which allow the users to interact with other
users more efficiently, and effectively without geographical limitations (Carayannis
et al., 2012). Smart phones offer larger and higher resolution screens and provide
consumers with a tremendous array of features, including mobile web browsing,
thousands of applications, e-mail, instant messaging, picture messaging, video and
audio playback, GPS, games, a video camera, picture and video editing and much more
(Goldman, 2010). In Peterson and Low’s (2011) study, almost three-quarters of the
students stated that they used the contract or package provided by the smart
CWIS phone provider which gives them with unlimited internet access on their mobile phone
30,2 or limited internet service sufficient for their needs. Consequently, the study
hypothesizes that:

H1. Social needs significantly affect the students’ dependence on smart phones.

126 2.2 Social influences


Social influence is related to the way other people affect one’s beliefs, feelings
and behaviour (Mason et al., 2007). It is likely that the individual will adopt the
particular thought, attitude, feeling and behaviour as well (Mei et al., 2012). Schiffman
et al. (2009) stated that the influences of social class, culture and subculture, although
less tangible, are important input factors that are internalized and affect how
consumers evaluate and adopt products. The intention to buy a brand is based
on a consumer’s attitude towards the brand as well as the influence of social norms
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and other people’s expectations ( Jamil and Wong, 2010). Friends and family members
are seen as social influences perceived to be important to consumers in promoting
and encouraging greater dependence on smart phones (Auter, 2007). Consumers may
be susceptible to social influence by observation, perception or anticipation of
decisions made by others in relation to smart phones (Suki and Suki, 2007). Therefore,
it is hypothesized:

H2. Social influences significantly affect the students’ dependence on smart phones.

2.3 Convenience of smart phone


The smart phone allows users to do things that they never thought possible without
being tethered to a home or office computer, from comparing store prices and searching
for restaurant reviews to checking into a hotel and social networking (Goldman, 2010)
at anytime and anywhere. With a smart phone and free software download, a user can
swipe the barcode of a product in a physical store and then generate the product
and company information automatically and promptly in real time. By means of smart
phones, consumers can easily and quickly shop for products across multiple channels
with substantially greater levels of convenience, flexibility, efficiency and
personalization (Persaud and Azhar, 2012). This shows that advances in mobile
technologies provide promising further benefits (Smura et al., 2009). Thus, the study
hypothesized that:

H3. Convenience significantly affects students’ dependence on smart phones.

2.4 Dependence on smart phone


Mobile revolution is rapidly converting people from using ordinary mobile phones to
smart phones in both developed and developing countries (Wong, 2011). People are
inseparable from their smart phones and they are more likely to use mobile
technologies to access different types of information. Peterson and Low (2011)
state that a high percentage of students will upgrade their mobile phones to smart
phones in the next 12 months, indicating a positive take up. Hence, the following
hypothesis is proposed:

H4. Dependence on smart phones significantly affects students’ purchase


behaviour.
Based on the above literatures, the study proposed the theoretical framework Students’
as presented in Figure 1. dependence on
3. Methodology smart phones
A total of 200 completed and usable questionnaires were received from the respondents
who comprised students from the public university in the Federal Territory of Labuan,
Malaysia. A simple random sampling method was utilized where every unit in the 127
population had an equal chance to be selected. To be selected as a respondent in this
study, the respondents were required to have a smart phone. The time frame necessary
for data collection was two weeks. Measurement of items was adapted from Ting et al.
(2011). The questionnaire used a five-point Likert scale with values ranging from
1 (strongly agree) to 5 (strongly disagree).
A quantitative research method was applied to determine whether the independent
variables (i.e. social needs, social influence, convenience and dependence) significantly
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affect dependent the variable (purchase behaviour). The statistical package for the
social sciences (SPSS) computer program version 17.0 was used for statistical analysis
and to attain the statistic data for this study. SPSS is useful for statistical tests, such as
testing for correlation and hypothesis. It can also provide a researcher with frequency
counts, sort data, rearrange data and serve as a useful data-entry device, with labels
for brief entries. Data were analysed using multiple regression analysis to relate the
importance of each independent variable. In the prediction of dependent variables the
advantage of the multiple regressions is a better prediction from multiple predictors
(Sekaran and Bougie, 2009). Besides, multiple regressions can avoid depending on a
single predictor and can avoid non-optimal combinations of predictors.

4. Results and discussion


Table I depicts the descriptive analysis of demographic profile of respondents.
A total of 49 per cent of the respondents were male compared to 51 per cent female.
A large number of respondents came from the age group of 20 years old and above
(97.5 per cent). The majority of the respondents were Malays with 54 per cent, followed
by the Chinese with 35.5 per cent. Students undertaking bachelor degree represented
the largest number of respondents with 68 per cent, followed by students holding
STPM 19.5 per cent and diploma with 10 per cent.

4.1 Experience with the smart phone


Table II presents the students’ experience with the usage of smart phones. In total,
30 per cent of the students say yes to the statement “I have used a smart phone more
than two years”. Next statement on “My smart phone application is easy to find”,
a bigger group of students (73.5 per cent) state yes. For “My smart phone is reliable all
the time”, 72.5 per cent of the students voted yes. In total, 78 per cent students were of

Social needs
H1
Social H2
influence Dependency on H4 Purchase
H3 smart phones behaviour
Figure 1.
Convenience Theoretical framework
CWIS Frequency %
30,2
Gender
Male 98 49.0
Female 102 51.0
Age (years)
128 o19 5 2.5
20-23 158 79.0
24-27 37 18.5
Race
Malay 108 54.0
Chinese 71 35.5
Indian 10 5.0
Others 11 5.5
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Education level
SPM 5 2.5
Table I. STPM 39 19.5
Demographic profile Diploma 20 10.0
of respondents Degree 136 68.0

Frequency %

I have been using smart phone more than two years


Yes 60 30.0
No 140 70.0
My smart phone application is easy to find
Yes 147 73.5
No 53 26.5
My smart phone is reliable in anytime
Yes 145 72.5
No 55 27.5
My smart phone is fast and effective
Yes 156 78.0
No 44 22.0
When I buy my smart phone, the price is
oRM1,000 43 21.5
RM1,001-RM1,500 73 36.5
RM1,501-RM2,000 59 29.5
4RM2,001 25 12.5
Operating system used
Android 72 36.0
iOS 16 8.0
RIM BlackBerry OS 29 14.5
Table II. Symbian OS 18 9.0
Experiences with Window Phone 4 2.0
the smart phone Others 61 30.5

the opinion that “My smart phone is fast and effective”. Of the students, 42 per cent
bought a smart phone at a price of RM1,501 or more. With regard to the type of
operating system used within the smart phone, 36 per cent of students use Android
while only 8 per cent go for iOS and 2 per cent take up Windows Phone. Meanwhile,
RIM BlackBerry OS is used by 14.5 per cent students.
4.2 Construct validity Students’
The construct validity was assessed by computing the principal axis factor with dependence on
varimax rotations. The overall value of Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) measure of
sampling adequacy should be 0.60 or higher to perform factor analysis. Result for smart phones
the Bartlett’s test of sphericity ¼ 364.327. The KMO measure of sampling
adequacy ¼ 0.758 which exceeds 0.60. Both were highly significant, indicating
that this variable was suitable for the factor analysis. Hair et al. (2010) suggested that 129
variables with loading 0.70 or greater are very significant. As illustrated in Table III,
the highest loading value in social needs factor is 0.833 for the statement “Smart phone
allows me to stay connected with those I care about”. For social influence the statement
“The pressure from friends and family is likely to influence the usage rate of smart
phone” has the highest loadings, i.e. 0.932. Next, within the convenience factor, “Having
a smart phone is like having both a mobile phone and a computer together” scored
highest loadings (0.807). “I always use my smart phone to deal with my job” and
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“I totally depend on my smart phone”, both represented dependence factor highest


loadings (0.917). As for the purchase behaviour factor, “I intend to continue to use
a smart phone in the future” lead the rest of the factor items with loadings ¼ 0.883.
Overall, all items load heavily in their respective factors.

Factor
Items loadings

Social needs
Smart phone allows me to stay connected with those I care about 0.833
I use smart phone to stay connected with friends and family through social networking
web sites (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc.) 0.801
It is easy for me to observe others’ happening by using the smart phone 0.788
I use my smart phone to catch up with friends and relatives 0.767
Social influence
The pressure from friends and family is likely influence the usage rate of smart phone 0.932
It is important that my friends like the brand of smart phone I’m using 0.868
I would buy a smart phone if it helped me fit in with my social group better 0.847
I would be open to be persuaded into using a smart phone if I had low self-esteema
Convenience
Having a smart phone is like having both a mobile phone and a computer together 0.807
In my work, smart phone saves me time and effort 0.802
I would prefer carrying my smart phone rather than my laptop 0.741
A smart phone enables me to receive learning materials anywhere I go 0.717
Using a smart phone would allow me to accomplish task more quicklya
Dependency
I always use my smart phone to deal with my job 0.917
I’m totally depending on my smart phone 0.917
I cannot do anything with my job without the smart phone 0.833
I will feel insecure when my smart phone is not with me 0.801
In my daily life, usage of smart phone is high 0.738
Purchase behaviour
I intend to keep continuing use smart phone in the future 0.883
I intend to have a better purchase of smart phone in the future from my experience 0.822
On the whole, I’m satisfied with the smart phone experience 0.814 Table III.
Overall, my positive experience outweighs my negative experience with smart phone 0.804 Exploratory factor
Note: aRemoved as its factor loading below 0.50 loadings
CWIS 4.3 Reliability testing
30,2 Reliability testing was performed to investigate the reliability of the collected data. The
acceptable value of coefficient reliability is more than 0.70 with higher values
symbolizing higher reliability among the indicators. Table IV presents the result of
reliability testing where the total scale of reliability for this study varies from 0.722 to
0.896 after removal of one item each from social influence and convenience factor,
130 all factors exceeding the minimum limit of 0.70 are believed reliable.

4.4 Correlation analysis between variables


Pearson correlation measures the correlation between two or more variables.
Correlation coefficients can range from the value of 1.00 to þ 1.00 (Lind et al., 2011).
The value of 1.00 represents a perfect negative correlation while a value of þ 1.00
represents a perfect positive correlation. Table V shows that all the factors affecting
the purchase behaviour (social needs, social influence, convenience and dependence)
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are positively correlated and the correlation coefficient is between 0.078 and 0.911.
Hence, there is no multicollinearity problem in this study. The skewness of all the items
ranges from 0.279 to 0.566, below72.0. Similarly, the values for kurtosis ranges from
0.234 to 0.116 well below the threshold of 710. Both the skewness and kurtosis
are below the said value, signifying that the scores approximate a “normal
distribution” or “bell-shaped curve”.

4.5 Relationship between social needs, social influences and convenience of smart phones
with dependence on them
To test the relationship between social needs, social influences and convenience of
smart phones with dependence on them, multiple regression analysis was performed.
Table VI infers that the F-statistics produced (F ¼ 191.086) is significant at 1 per cent
level (significance Fo0.01). Adjusted R2 is 0.741. These indicate that social needs,

No. of items No. of deleted item Cronbach’s a

Purchase behaviour 4 0 0.809


Social needs 4 0 0.860
Social influence 4 1 0.722
Table IV. Convenience 5 1 0.896
Reliability analysis Dependency 5 0 0.848

Skewness Kurtosis 1 2 3 4 5

Purchase behaviour 0.566 0.234 1


Social needs 0.351 0.771 0.866** 1
Social influence 0.312 0.418 0.164* 0.123 1
Convenience 0.279 0.116 0.107 0.144* 0.078 1
Dependency 0.227 0.757 0.911** 0.862** 0.130 0.089 1
Mean 2.620 2.633 3.488 3.776 2.629
Standard deviation 0.930 0.956 0.793 0.568 0.991
Table V.
Correlations analysis Notes: *, **Correlation is significant at the 0.05 and 0.01 levels (two-tailed) respectively
social influence and convenience explained 74.1 per cent in dependence on smart Students’
phones. Furthermore, tolerance value ranges 0.967-0.981, are well above 0.10. The dependence on
highest variance inflated factor (VIF) value can be seen in social needs factor (1.035),
and is much smaller than 5. Hence, multicollinearity among the independent variables smart phones
is statistically significant, indicating absence of multicollinearity.
The most important factor that significantly influences students’ dependence on
smart phones is social needs as tested in H1. H1 reveals there is a significant 131
relationship between social needs and students’ dependence on smart phones
( p ¼ 0.000) at 95 per cent significant level. Therefore, H1 is supported with b1 ¼ 0.864
and t-value ¼ 23.568. This significant result is analogous with Auter (2007) and
Donahue’s (2010) study. This study confirms that students heavily and actively use
smart phones to stay connected with friends and family through social networking
web sites such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc.). In other words, smart phones
allow them to stay connected with those they care about. Interestingly, smart
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phones make it easy for them to observe what’s happening globally at any time seven
days a week, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.
Next, findings in Table VI confirm that social influence is the second significant
factor that affects students’ dependence on smart phones (b2 ¼ 0.727, po0.05). Hence,
H2 is supported by and agrees with the discovery by Park and Chen (2007). This
confirms that social influences such as pressure from friends and family influence their
usage rate of smart phones. Indeed, they are concerned whether their friends like the
brand of smart phone they are currently using and would buy a smart phone if it
helped them to fit in with their social group. It is of surprise to note that respondents in
this study express that convenience of smart phones does not affect their purchase
behaviour ( p ¼ 0.306, b3 ¼ 0.038, t-value ¼ 1.027). Therefore, the proposed H3 is
not supported by the data and is rejected. Results infer that they have the opposite
perspective from “having a smart phone is like having both a mobile phone and
a computer together, it enables them to receive learning materials anywhere they go
and they prefer carrying a smart phone rather than a laptop”. Preceding research by
Goldman (2010) had contradictory findings.

4.6 Relationship between dependence on smart phones and students’ purchase behaviour
H4 supposes that dependence on smart phones significantly influences students’
purchase behaviour (b4 ¼ 0.911, t-value ¼ 31.050, po0.05). In this relationship,
multicollinearity is absent as the tolerance value is above the cut-off value of 0.10 and
the VIF value is o5. The statistical results in Table VII authenticate the existence
of a very strong relationship between dependence on smart phones and students’

Unstandardized Standardized
coefficients coefficients Collinearity statistics
B SE b t Significance Tolerance VIF
Table VI.
Social needs 0.896 0.038 0.864 23.568 0.000 0.967 1.035 Relationship between
Social influence 0.029 0.040 0.727 0.734 0.034 0.981 1.019 social needs, social
Convenience 0.059 0.057 0.038 1.027 0.306 0.975 1.025 influences and
Adjusted R2 0.741 convenience of smart
F 191.086 phone with dependency
Significance 0.000 on smart phone
CWIS purchase behaviour, implying that they depend on the smart phone which causes them
30,2 to feel insecure when it is not with them. Their positive experience with smart phones
outweighs their negative experience, as their usage of smart phones is high. Hence,
H4 is supported. The finding of this study is consistent with Nanda et al. (2008).
Dependence on smart phones explained 82.9 per cent of students’ purchase behaviour
based on adjusted R2 ¼ 0.829.
132
5. Conclusion
This study assessed students’ dependence on smart phones and its impact on their
purchase behaviour. All in all, with regard to the relationship between social needs,
social influences and convenience of smart phones and dependence on smart phones,
through multiple regression analysis, two hypotheses were supported (i.e. social needs,
and social influence). Social needs have the strongest effect on the students’ dependence
on smart phones, followed by social influences. However, convenience was found
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to be insignificant to students’ dependence on smart phones. It is worthy to note that a


very strong relationship exists between dependence on smart phones and students’
purchase behaviour. Prior research by Woodcock et al. (2012) indicated that most
students have not made strong connections for themselves between their personal
smart phone technology, their needs as learners and the way they learn. One factor
that affects convenience is the speed of the internet connection at the university
and the availability of Wi-Fi services which are important for smart phone
applications. Nevertheless, academics and educational developers need to encourage
the students’ use of personal technologies such as smart phones and tablet PCs to
enhance their learning process. On the smart phone provider side, it is recommended
to continuously increase the smart phone functionality to be more relevant to students.
One factor that might limit the current research findings is that the sample was only
distributed among 200 students in a public university in the Federal Territory of
Labuan, Malaysia and it has limited research findings regarding the influence of
students’ purchase behaviour towards smart phones. It is recommended that the
coverage of sample selection be widened to improve the generalizability of the results
and to provide more accurate and holistic results. Future study should be conducted
across student groups at university and secondary level in Malaysia to obtain
more accurate and holistic results of buying behaviour factors and to reflect
different cultures among students. A comparison between different cultural groupings
would show the differences and similarities of how smart phones are perceived
and used by students.
The basic knowledge about cooperation model was not introduced in this study.
Chang et al. (2010a) recommend a new study to be conducted on online virtual
collaborative commerce information security using cross-cultural approach.

Unstandardized Standardized
coefficients coefficients Collinearity statistics
B SE b t Significance Tolerance VIF
Table VII.
Relationship between Dependency 0.855 0.028 0.911 31.050 0.000 1.000 1.000
dependency on smart Adjusted R2 0.829
phone and students’ F 964.125
purchase behaviour Significance 0.000
The application could shorten the product design cycle and advance firms’ Students’
competitiveness (Chang et al., 2010b). Businesses should improve business dependence on
performance by cooperating with collaborative vendors to reduce energy waste
(Chang and Liao, 2012). Thus, future research is suggested to relate the behaviour with smart phones
the cooperation optimization method.

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About the author


Norazah Mohd Suki is an Associate Professor at the Labuan School of International Business &
Finance, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Labuan International Campus. She has successfully
supervised several postgraduate students at MBA and PhD level. Her research interests include
electronic marketing, E-commerce, M-commerce, consumer behaviour, mobile learning and areas
related to marketing. She actively publishes articles in international journals. She is the editor-in-
chief to Labuan e-Journal of Muamalat and Society and a member of the advisory boards for
several outstanding journals. She has sound experience as speaker to public and private
universities, government bodies on courses related to structural equation modelling (SEM),
Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) and Research Methodology. Norazah Mohd Suki
can be contacted at: azahsuki@yahoo.com

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