NUREMBURG: Smartphone sales rose by more than 60% across Europe last year as demand for the iPhone and similar devices strengthened in the region.

According to figures from GfK, the research firm, covering 25 markets in Europe, the mobile phone category as a whole expanded by 3.2% in 2011, with 258m handsets sold overall.

Within this total, the purchase rate for smartphones climbed by a still higher 67% year on year, with these devices responsible for 36% of sales over the 12 month period.

More specifically, while smartphones' share of the sales total was just 22% in January, it rose to 45% in December.

Among the retailers polled by GfK, the pace of growth varied between 35% in the UK and 105% in Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkey and the Ukraine.

Based on the information provided by its panel of retailers, GfK reported that the average price of a mobile phone purchased in Europe last year rose by 8% on an annual basis, to €200.

GfK also estimated that smartphones currently hold a 17% volume share of the market in the UK, ahead of Germany, Austria and Switzerland on 16% each.

Looking ahead, the company predicted smartphones would account for 22% of all digital device sales this year. This total includes devices such as LCD televisions, computers, digital cameras and tablets.

This would constitute an expansion of four percentage point compared with 2011's share of 18%.

Data sourced from GfK; additional content by Warc staff