Smartphones drive mobile web uptake in UK

17 August 2010

LONDON: More than a third of the mobile audience in the UK regularly go online via their handsets, a trend encouraged by the popularity of devices like the iPhone.

In a recent study, ComScore, the research firm, estimated 37% of wireless subscribers in the country have gone online in this way.

Elsewhere, 36% of this group as a whole had been exposed to some form of mobile advertising in June 2010 - whether by text and picture SMS messages, or display or video ads hosted on mobile web pages.

Smartphones had a mobile market share of 28% in the UK by May 2010, equating to 12.87m active handsets.

This represents an uptick of over 80% from the figure of 7.13m recorded in May 2009.

Take-up was highest among 25 to 34-year-olds, 3.4m of which possess a BlackBerry or similar product, falling to 2.86m for 35 to 44-year-olds and 2.2m for 18 to 24-year-olds, ComScore found.

Consumers aged at least 55 years old proved to be relatively keen on these technologically-advanced devices, having purchased 1.95m units, declining to 1.74m for 45–54 year olds and 780k for 13 to 17-year-olds.

In terms of category growth, 18 to 24-year-olds are delivering the most rapid increase in sales, and now makes up nearly 16% of smartphone users.

Facebook claimed a penetration of 67% with members of the 15–24 year old age range who surfed the net through the iPhone or equivalent.

Google posted a corresponding total of 61.1% for the same segment, sliding to 47.2% for Microsoft's stable of sites, 38.8% for the BBC's website and 20.1% for Yahoo.

While 71% of subscribers to offerings like the iPhone and BlackBerry had downloaded applications, this decreased to 31% of all mobile owners.

"What we're seeing is a disconnect between the hype around apps and the number of people who are actually using them," said Jeremy Copp, ComScore's vice president of mobile.

"Brands need to think outside of the app space if they really want to engage with a mass-market audience. Apps are by no means the dominant channel, although it would be unwise to abandon them altogether."

The favourite such tools included location-based apps, alongside services linked to social networking and weather forecasts.

"Advertising via SMS and browsing still plays a key role when it comes to advertisers reaching mobile users," Copp argued. "Marketers need to remember they have a variety of channels at their disposal."

Data sourced from New Media Age; additional content by Warc staff