LONDON: Consumers in the UK are adopting an increasingly diverse range of digital media habits, a new report has shown.

Business services specialist KPMG and research firm YouGov surveyed 2,103 people, and found smartphone penetration has now reached 36%, including 54% of 18-24 year olds.

In all, 74% of respondents owning a gadget like the iPhone use it to go online, 61% access social media sites, and 58% use email or instant messaging platforms.

A further 25% watch TV or video clips on wireless devices, 18% had completed an m-commerce transaction, and 15% read newspapers.

To date, 25% of consumers had also paid for some form of content made available on these appliances, the report added.

Apps are another area witnessing a surge in demand, with 74% of smartphone subscribers downloading at least one such tool in the month ending 31 March, 2011.

However, 42% of the applications selected carried no charge, 31% operated a mixed model and a 1% minority were entirely paid-for.

Apple's App Store currently generates 73% of paid-for downloads, ahead of 7% for Google's alternative, and 6% for BlackBerry's App World.

Turning to tablets, penetration has grown from 2% in September 2010 to 5% today, KPMG revealed.

At present, 74% of this audience log on to the web via their iPad - holding an estimated 57% category share - or similar offerings, while 66% read emails and 52% play free games.

Half of tablet owners stream video and broadcast material and use social media, 38% had acquired goods and services, and 25% regularly read newspaper articles and features on the devices.

Some 80% of the tablet user base had downloaded apps in the month before the study, with the App Store taking a 93% share.

The early adopters already possessing slates spent nearly £9 per month on apps, measured against £6 for smartphone customers, and 60% of the former group had paid to access content.

"This is inevitably due to the size of the tablet and its superior video quality and screen that make it preferable for viewing books, newspapers, films and TV programmes than on the smartphone," the study said.

Elsewhere, KPMG reported 50% of all individuals questioned had visited a social media site in the month prior to the poll, beating online news portals, with 40%, and video-on-demand TV platforms, securing 21%.

Such figures can be compared with 92% of the panel watching linear TV across the same period, 77% reading physical newspapers and listening to the radio, and 63% reading a magazine.

Indeed, 83% of the sample preferred to consume broadcast programming and films on a TV set than using a computer, just as 73% favoured paper copies of print media to a digital equivalent.

Overall, only 49% of interviewees preferred the "experience" of traditional media, off from 57% during the last research round.

Looking to the web, 83% enjoyed the ability to access material whenever they chose, and 63% believed this channel offered benefits concerning free content.

Another 51% thought it was easier to track down items of interest online, and 46% concurred the net yielded a wider choice than offline mediums.

While 60% of KPMG's survey community would be willing to pay for films, this fell to 35% for music, 28% for TV and 27% for print titles.

Just 2% said they would happily meet charges introduced by a site they had previously used frequently for nothing, but 83% were likely to try and find different providers.

Data sourced from KPMG; additional content by Warc staff