Mobile habits evolve

16 February 2011

NEW YORK: Consumers in markets such as the US, UK and Japan are embracing an increasingly wide range of mobile media activities, a study has found.

Research firm comScore has released a new report discussing the major trends in this category last year, covering the US, Japan and "EU5" - France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.

It found 46.7% of American mobile subscribers, equating to 109m people, engaged in pastimes like surfing the net, using apps or downloading content via this route in December 2010, a 7.6 percentage point jump year-on-year.

Smartphone ownership in the country also reached 27% by the close of last year, measured against 16.8% at the end of 2009.

Looking to Europe, mobile media uptake grew seven percentage points in the timeframe under assessment, attaining 37%.

The penetration of devices like the iPhone and alternatives powered by Google's Android rose nearly 10% in the EU5, hitting 31.1%, peaking at 38% in Spain, 35% in Italy and 33.6% in the UK.

Overall, it was estimated there are now 63.2m US smartphone users, alongside 16.6m in the UK and Italy, 14m in Germany, 13.2m in Spain and 12.2m for France.

Japan's mobile audience stood at 100m people in December 2010, three-quarters of which used some form of media from a handset, incorporating 55% accessing an internet browser during the same month.

By contrast, 36% of US mobile subscribers employed their phone when going online in December 2010, falling to 29% for the EU5, totals coming in at 34% and 28% regarding apps.

Another 24.7% of the American wireless population log on to social networks or blogs in such a way, compared with 19.3% in Japan and 18% in Europe.

Uptake was higher among US smartphone customers, as 57.3% or 36.2m people, while 37.8%, or 27.5m, Europeans pursued the same activity.

Facebook reached 90% of this group in the US and 85% of Europeans, followed by YouTube, Twitter and MySpace, all a considerable distance further back.

The number of goods advertised through mobile content in the US climbed 150% across the two years to September 2010, topping 1,000, comScore added.

Apple's iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 were the most-purchased gadgets last year in both Europe and the US, with BlackBerry's Curve also performing well.

In choosing between products, network quality was awarded an average 7.9 points on a ten-point scale, and the cost of monthly service yielded 7.5 points.

Price secured 7.2 points, the expense of data plans received 7.1 points, and brand name delivered 6.9 points.

For US shoppers buying a smartphone, operating systems posted an importance rating of eight points, beating the selection of apps on 7.6 points.

Music and video capabilities registered 7.2 points, brand name lodged exactly seven points and social networking features generated 6.9 points.

One area where Japan clearly leads is m-commerce, as 9.8m individuals made purchases with a "mobile wallet" in December 2010, equivalent to almost 10% of users.

Some 7.6m people completed transactions in this manner at convenience stores, ahead of vending machines' 3.2m, public transport's 2.7m, grocery stores' 2.6m and restaurants' 1.5m.

Data sourced from comScore; additional content by Warc staff