MUNICH: Mobile media use in Germany is witnessing a "clear shift" away from information and towards entertainment, a study has argued.

Research firm TNS estimated there are currently 107.2m mobile phones in the country, measured against a population of 81.8m people.

A survey by the company revealed 49% of consumers planned to acquire a phone with a touchscreen when next making a category purchase.

For 21% of potential buyers, a high-speed web connection was the vital characteristic here, with email access posting 15% and navigation tools attracting a further 13%.

However, a camera, text messaging and the capacity to enjoy music retain considerable appeal, TNS said.

In picking between competing offerings, half of the sample trusted the opinions expressed by friends and acquaintances, and 47% looked to user-generated online reviews.

Prior brand experience also exerted a meaningful impact, although this can ultimately prove to be an advantage or disadvantage.

Elsewhere, 36% of contributors learned about the products available via official websites, 30% read details on network providers' portals and 23% did so through telecoms retailers' digital hubs.

In all, 29% of Germans had bought handsets online, compared to 27% for network operators' physical stores, 12% for electronics retailers and 10% for specialist shops.

Additionally, 34% of 16-24 year olds made an order utilising the web, with this demographic more keen on electronics chains but less likely to attend outlets run by wireless networks.

While the typical customer paid €125 when obtaining their current phone, respondents pegged the average expected cost for a replacement at €161.

Participants under the age of 21 years old believed they would splash out €213, reflecting a greater desire to own a smartphone.

"This shows many German want to use the various new possibilities offered by mobile communication," said Robert A Wieland, of TNS Germany.

"Many consumers seem to have acceptable that a suitable appliance will cost more."

Among the individuals already active on the mobile internet, 20% visited social networks like Facebook and Twitter, compared with 13% in 2009.

Mobile shopping sites saw an increase from 20% to 31% annually, hitting 7% and 18% respectively for entertainment platforms.

A 21% share of this audience also now upload photos and video on a handset, and 28% anticipated doing so going forward.

By contrast, the number of mobile netizens browsing news properties slipped from 39% to 30%, suggesting a "shift" towards alternative pastimes.

Data sourced from TNS; additional content by Warc staff