NEW YORK: Consumers around the world are making increased use of devices like smartphones and tablets to download apps, compare prices and buy products, new figures show.

Oracle, the business services firm, surveyed 3,000 mobile subscribers globally, 69% of which used a smartphone, and a panel slightly skewed towards the male and younger audiences.

Some 47% are now utilising mobile data services with greater frequency than in an equivalent study last year. For 43%, the mobile phone had replaced their digital camera, standing at 34% for MP3 players and 24% for GPS navigation systems.

Elsewhere, 55% of contributors had downloaded free mobile apps, up from 42% in 2010, and 25% had paid for such tools. Another 38% are leveraging applications more regularly than a year ago.

Precisely 75% of respondents in Generation Y, born between 1977 and 1992, had installed apps, versus 41% of their Baby Boomer counterparts, born between 1946 and 1964.

A further 16% of interviewees already owned a tablet such as the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab, and 41% hoped to acquire one of these devices during the coming 12 months.

When assessing the apps they would most like to use on smartphones or tablets, 68% of those polled highlighted games, beating social networks on 67%, music on 63%, banking on 55% and video on 51%.

More broadly, 45% of participants that have downloaded apps reported previously sharing their location with one of these tools, for example to find directions or view localised offers.

Looking to mcommerce, 18% of shoppers had purchased goods or services online through a handset, double the score from 2010. Although only 6% had paid for something in stores using their handset, 21% would be "very comfortable" doing so.

An additional 30% of the sample had compared prices via a mobile phone, 24% read customer reviews in this way and 14% had scanned a QR Code featured in an ad or article.

Similarly, 28% of people questioned had accessed online banking services on their phone. However, 68% outlined concerns about the security of information stored or transmitted on mobile gadgets.

"Customer demands continue to evolve rapidly," said Bhaskar Gorti, SVP/general manager at Oracle Communications. "Providers also have an enormous opportunity to enhance their customer relationships by engaging with them at every touchpoint."

Data sourced from Oracle; additional content by Warc staff