PARIS: More than four in ten consumers now access the mobile internet in France, with growth driven by women and older users, a study has revealed.

Médiamétrie, the research group, reported that 22.3m people went online via a mobile browser or app in the third quarter of this year, equivalent to a penetration rate of 41.2%.

A key facilitator of this trend was the rising uptake of smartphones. Some 23.8m consumers, or 46.6% of the population, currently possess one of these gadgets, up from 17m in the third quarter of 2011.

A 46% share of women own one these devices today, compared with the total of 41% registered 12 months ago. Such figures stood at 59% and 56% for people aged over 35 years old.

The market share of Apple's iPhone has declined from 26.6% to 21% during this period, while handsets powered by Google's Android operating system logged an increase from 33.2% to 45.1%.

Of the existing mobile web audience, fully 92% accessed at least one website through a browser, while 72.1% employed a smartphone app for the same purpose.

Google's search engine was the most popular mobile website with nearly 16m visitors in September, ahead of Facebook, the social network, on 14.5m and YouTube, the video-sharing platform, on 9.6m.

Turning to apps, Google again led the charts having attracted 11.8m visitors using this route, beating YouTube, its video-sharing property, on 9.3m, and iTunes, Apple's music service, on 8.3m.

Data sourced from Médiamétrie; additional content by Warc staff