Mobile web rises in popularity in the UK

06 September 2010

LONDON: The mobile internet is rising in popularity among UK consumers, largely due to the increased penetration of smartphones like the iPhone and BlackBerry.

According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), 30.1m adults access the web on a daily basis, an uptick from 16.5m in 2006.

While penetration has now grown to 77%, or 38.3m individuals overall, there remain 9.2m Britons who have never been online.

Approximately 17m adults stream TV content via this medium, with video-on-demand offerings operated by official broadcasters proving especially popular.

By gender, the ONS reported that 52% of men had utilised services like the BBC iPlayer and Channel 4's 4oD, falling to 23% of women.

Elsewhere, 43% of people used social networks, chat sites, blogs or instant messaging platforms, including 75% of 16-24 year olds.

More specifically, 38% upload material like photos, music and videos to Flickr, MySpace, YouTube or similar properties.

But email retained its position as the most popular online pastime, as 90% of consumers regularly send and receive messages.

Finding information about goods and services was in second place on 75%, with reading or downloading news, newspapers or magazines on 51%.

For e-commerce, 31m shoppers had purchased products virtually in the last 12 months, including 52% buying clothes or sports apparel and 47% paying for films and music.

Just 25% picked up electronics in the same way, declining to 24% for food and groceries and 15% for telecoms.

Some 31% of netizens said they browsed the web through a mobile phone, an improvement on 23% in 2009, and rising to 44% among 16-24 year old.

"Since 2006 we have seen a significant increase in the number of people using the internet, with the number of adults accessing the internet every day almost doubling to just over 30m, though the UK is some way off from being completely online," said Mark Williams of the ONS.

"Usage is closely linked with a number of socio-economic and demographic indicators with those less educated and on lower incomes less likely to access the web."

Data sourced from ONS; additional content by Warc staff