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Brits Increasingly Wise to Smartphones as 10 Million+ Browse the Mobile Web
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Brits Increasingly Wise to Smartphones as 10 Million+ Browse the Mobile Web

The British have taken to smartphones like the iPhone and Blackberry with gusto, according to new research from The Nielsen Company.  The number of people in the UK using smartphones increased 10 percent between the second and third quarters of this year, from 5.6 million to 6.2 million.  While this growth is solid, smartphone share of the overall UK mobile market grew from 14 to 15 percent, indicating that significant growth opportunities remain in this segment.

So what are Brits doing with their smartphones?  Mobile web browsing was the fastest growing activity, with 10.4 million using that function in the third quarter, up from 8.8 million in the second quarter.  Downloading applications was the second fastest growing activity, with 1 million new users in the third quarter to 4.1 million.

“Although there have been sizable increases in the take-up of new mobile technologies such as video and location-based services, they remain niche forms of behavior,” said Edward Kershaw, Vice President of Mobile Media at Nielsen.  “The era of the handset as a truly multi-media device on a mass-market level lies somewhere on the horizon, and the key for companies to successfully harness mobile lies in a realistic understanding of what activities people on a large-scale are actually doing with their handsets now.”

Fastest-growing UK mobile phone media activities, Q2 2009 – Q3 2009
Rank Media Activity Q3 (millions) Q2 (millions) Q3 % of UK Mobile Owners
1 Internet 10.4 8.8 21%
2 Downloading apps 4.1 3.1 8%
3 Email 5.8 5.1 12%
4 Text alerts 4.3 3.5 9%
5 Text messaging/SMS 37.6 36.9 78%
6 Video 1.8 1.3 4%
7 Location-based services 3.3 2.9 7%
8 Instant messaging 3.4 3.0 7%
9 Picture messaging 10.8 10.4 22%
10 Uploading content 2.6 2.3 5%
Source: The Nielsen Company