PARIS: Mobile internet usage is gaining popularity in France, with the number of people participating in this activity having grown by more than a third in the last 12 months.

Médiamétrie, the research firm, found 18.3m consumers currently utilise the web on wireless handsets, a 34% lift year on year.

The rate of growth recorded by the mobile internet population is also five times that registered by the user base accessing the net via more established routes, according to the company.

Smartphones have been crucial to this trend, with 40% of mobile subscribers now owning one, a 27% increase in six months, and a four-fold expansion in 2.5 years.

Devices powered by Google's Android operating system have seen a particularly rapid uptake, especially for 25-34 year olds, 18% of which possess such a gadget, versus 13% with an iPhone.

Overall, someone purchasing a new smartphone in the first quarter of this year was twice as likely to choose a handset run by Android than an iPhone.

Among individuals who have downloaded mobile apps, 98% had installed at least one free tool, meaning only a small minority solely opt for the paid-for equivalent.

Gaming and entertainment-based apps are the most popular categories here, beating news applications in third position. Geo-location apps are also increasingly important, Médiamétrie added.

At present, 4.2% of consumers aged 15 years of age and above are the "primary users" of a tablet, with Apple leading in terms of brand preference, ahead of Samsung and Archos.

Typically, the primary user of an iPad is a married male, aged 35-49 years old, affluent, and living in Paris.

Over 90% of people boasting a tablet employ it at home, while around half do so when on the move, Médiamétrie stated.

Data sourced from Médiamétrie; additional content by Warc staff