LONDON: News sites and apps are attracting greater numbers of European smartphone owners, with usage rates particularly high in the UK, comScore has said.

According to new figures from the digital research firm, 11.8% of mobile internet users in the European Union's five largest economies – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK – accessed news on their devices "almost every day" in January 2012. This represents year-on-year growth of 82%.

Of the five countries measured, growth rates were highest in Spain, where the number of near-daily mobile news consumers was up 160% year on year. The practice of regularly accessing the sites was most widespread in the UK, where 15.8% of the smartphone audience accessed news apps and sites almost every day.

But penetration was lowest in Italy, where just 10.2% of the audience did the same.

These national patterns repeated themselves for less-frequent mobile news consumers.

In all, 46.8% of UK users accessed the sites and apps at least once a month, a total that fell to 30.9% in Italy. The five-nation average on this metric was 36.9%.

Hesham Al-Jehani, comScore Europe product manager for mobile, said: "Today's mobile consumer wants to be plugged into what's happening around them every second of the day, and their smartphones are enabling them to do that.

"This rapidly changing trend brings with it significant incremental opportunity for news publishers to extend their audiences, but also the challenges of delivering their content effectively through the small screen."

According to comScore, 45.2% of the population of the five countries measured had used a smartphone at some point during the three months to January 2012.

Apps and mobile browsers were equally popular, with each web service being used by 39.2%.

Data sourced from comScore; additional content by Warc staff