PARIS: Mobile media usage is rising quickly in France, as smartphones and tablets become more popular.

Research firm Médiamétrie reported that 81% of people, or 43.5m consumers, in the country used a mobile phone during the first quarter of 2011.

Only 11.8% solely utilised wireless devices for making calls, declining from 17.7% on an annual basis.

Smartphones currently hold a 31.4% market share, a figure trebling the amount secured two years ago, and reaching 40% among 15-24 year olds.

Handsets powered by Google's Android operating system are rapidly gaining ground, now taking a 20% share, measured against 2% in similar analysis published 12 months previously.

Overall, 5.5m individuals downloaded apps across the opening three months of the year, a 44% annual lift, and 38.2% had done so in the month before the study.

However, two-thirds of this audience employed less than half the applications on their phone in the same period, while fewer than 1% leveraged them all.

Free apps made up 90% of the download total in Q1, climbing from 87.5% in Q3 2010.

App stores were seen as the best way to identify useful offerings, followed by lists provided within these hubs, and then word of mouth.

Just 8% of shoppers displayed familiarity with Near Field Communication contactless payment and scanning tools, but almost a third proved interested in such technology once it was fully explained.

Elsewhere, Médiamétrie found half of consumers owning tablets sent and received email via this route, alongside two-thirds surfing the net, and 40% watching video, playing games or reading news.

Data sourced from Médiamétrie; additional content by Warc staff