AUCKLAND: Around 90% of New Zealanders are expected to own a smartphone by 2018, by which time the rate of tablet penetration will also reach 78%, according to new research.

The New Zealand Mobile Device Usage 2013 report, from business consultancy Frost & Sullivan, assessed web users aged between 15 and 65 years old, and stated that 64% of New Zealanders currently own a smartphone, while 26% own a tablet.

The Android smartphone platform currently has a 64% market share, compared with 24% for Apple's iOS, which is expected to lose further market share over the next few years as its rivals improve the functionality of their cheaper devices.

Apple's iPad is also predicted to see a fall from its current 59% share of the tablet market to less than 40% over the next five years, as other suppliers introduce alternative devices at lower price points.

Among its extensive findings, the study said 44% of smartphone users mainly used these gadgets to engage with media, while 61% accessed social networks via an app or an internet site at least once a month.

Other frequent activities undertaken by New Zealand's smartphone audience include searching for jobs, as 36% of users engaged in this pastime at least once every six months.

Just over half (51%) used their smartphones to locate stores, as did 31% for price comparisons. A further 28% of the entire panel had made purchases on a smartphone, which compared with 18% who used tablets to buy goods and services.

Phil Harper, a senior research manager at Frost & Sullivan, noted that 56% of smartphone owners watched user-generated content on sites such as YouTube at least once a month on this device, while 26% did so most days.

With an increasing amount of video content being viewed on smart devices, he predicted mobile devices would increasingly integrate into the "overall lounge room experience" at the expense of traditional TV sets.

Harper also predicted that smartphones and tablets will overtake print media as the most popular channel to access news articles within the next five to ten years.

Data sourced from Frost & Sullivan; additional content by Warc staff