Digital device ownership surges in UK

23 July 2012

LONDON: Digital device penetration is rising in the UK, where the average household now contains three internet-enabled gadgets and 15% of homes boast more than six, a study has revealed.

Ofcom, the communications regulator, reported that 39% of British adults possessed a smartphone at the end of 2011, a leap of 12 percentage points from 2010.

The amount of time these subscribers spend using the web via this route had also increased by 25% year on year.

Some 51% of people owning offerings like the iPhone utilised them to send and receive emails, and 42% regularly accessed social networks in the same way.

Furthermore, smartphones are starting to serve as substitutes for other appliances, as demonstrated by the fact 51% of owners now watch videos less often on their PC, standing at 47% for sending messages.

Moreover, a majority of this group turn to their handsets when out shopping, with 31% taking photos of products and 25% comparing prices online.

Another 21% scanned barcodes in order to view product information, and 19% read reviews of goods and services on the internet. The same number researched product features from their phones.

Tablet uptake also expanded from 2% to 11% year on year. This figure is set improve still further given that 17% of households intends to purchase a slate in the coming 12 months.

Among members of the current tablet population, 23% also admitted to spending more time on social networks as a result of owning these gadgets.

Elsewhere, “smart TVs” with web connections are now present in 5% of UK residences, and over two-thirds of this audience have watched broadcast content and accessed the net simultaneously.

In terms of how consumers are choosing to communicate, there has been a 5% drop in the amount of time spent talking on the phone, as the volume of landline and mobile calls decline.

By contrast, the average consumer sends 50 text messages a week, twice the level recorded four years ago. Around ninety minutes a week are dedicated to social networks, email or using the mobile web, Ofcom added.

Data sourced from Ofcom; additional content by Warc staff