A nice summary of recent research by Ofcom (an independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries) by UK blogger Colette Burke detailing the growing infatuation of the British for the smartphone, so I republish it verbatim below.  Burke's conclusion is right on regarding the need for companies to respond sooner rather than later by making their websites more mobile-friendly.  And it won't be long before we start hearing how 'mobile' not only refers to smartphones but also tablet PCs.  In fact you just did.  More of my comments following Burke's column.

Friday, 28 October 2011 

Colette Burke - Land Strategies Farming Blog

"A nation addicted to smartphones" is how Ofcom summarises its findings from a recent piece of research, saying that 27% of all adults and almost half of teenagers now own a smartphone (a mobile which connects to the internet). Smartphone owning numbers have exploded in the past year, and are set to rise further as annual sales of smartphones are now higher than those for the standard version.

More internet users connect to the web via their mobile than a laptop (45% versus 38%), and the number is even higher among 16-24 yearold where 71% access the internet via phone.

Smartphone usage is definitely here to stay and businesses are thinking through how they tap into the trend, whether it be for advertising their products, providing information, or directly selling goods online.

At the very least, websites must be simple enough to be quickly accessed. Consumers will rapidly lose patience if they have to wait for information to be downloaded. This means either having a site tailored to mobile usage, which automatically comes up when searched via phone, or having a link redirecting users from the main site to a mobile friendly one. Amazon and Tesco are good examples of a speedy tailored link. Asda’s site take an age to download.

The other option is to provide an app, or application, which sits permanently on the phone for easy access to a specific activity.

Although most usage is still for socialising, downloading music,  gaming, and searching for information,  the IGD reckons that smartphones are starting to change the way groceries are bought online. According to their research, 1 in 10 online shoppers are using smartphones to shop. Ocado claims that 15% of customer checkouts during the first half of the year came via their smartphone app. Tesco has a handy app which allows shoppers to scan the barcode of a product on their phone whereupon it is automatically added to their online shopping basket.

As to future developments, the IGD predicts that tailored apps which build a relationship with individual consumers are the way to go.

The time has probably come to view selling and marketing via the mobile phone as a crucial part of any business plan.  The research finds that 81% of smartphone users never switch them off, even when they go to bed, and that huge numbers are happy to use the phone whilst socialising, at the meal table, and even in the bathroom.

Smartphone usage is now a part of life. Those businesses without a smartphone presence may find themselves competitively disadvantaged. 


It's nice to see a perspective, boosted by fresh data, coming from outside the US for once.  Ofcam's research revealed some additional findings that didn't make it into Burke's installment, especially in terms of socializing.

In the bathroom and at the dinner table

The rapid growth in the use of smartphones – which offer internet access, email and a variety of internet-based applications – is changing the way many of us, particularly teenagers, act in social situations.

The vast majority of smartphone users (81 per cent) have their mobile switched on all of the time, even when they are in bed, with four in ten adults (38 per cent) and teens (40 per cent) admitting using their smartphone after it woke them.

Over half (51 per cent) of adults and two thirds (65 per cent) of teenagers say they have used their smartphone while socialising with others, nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of adults and a third (34 per cent) of teenagers have used them during mealtimes and over a fifth (22 per cent) of adult and nearly half (47 per cent) of teenage smartphone users admitted using or answering their handset in the bathroom or toilet.

Teenagers are also more likely to use their smartphone in places they’ve been asked to switch their phone off such as the cinema or library – with 27 per cent admitting doing so, compared with 18 per cent of adults.

So much for the UK.  What about elsewhere?  A global survey carried out last February and March by IDG Global Solutions involving nearly 13,700 participants from 16 countries essentially demonstrated that the UK results are pretty typical.  Although IGS identified differences in terms of preferred smartphone brands and usage by region, it was clear that the popularity of mobile devices is rapidly growing worldwide, and that the traditional cellphone is on its way out, to the product scrapheap that is littered by VCRs, fax machines, and desktop computers.

More than 2/3s of the respondents worldwide claimed to use a smartphone for personal (73%) or business (69%) purposes. Nokia and Apple lead the way in Europe, while Apple, Blackberry, and Samsung the preferred choices in the US.  Moreover, 70% of smartphone users say they browse the Internet regularly and use mobile applications, with general and IT news sites most popular, followed by social networking access.  

As if you don't have enough stats for one day, here are some more 'in a nutshell' global mobile stats from mobilThinking:

Consumer mobile behavior

1) What do consumers use their mobiles for?  Japanese consumers are still more advanced in mobile behavior, using mobile Web, apps and email more, but US or Europeans text and play more games. Most popular mobile destinations are news and information, weather reports, social networking, search and maps.

• In all countries surveyed more consumers used their browser than apps and only a minority will use Web or apps exclusively.

2) US consumers prefer mobile browsers for banking, travel, shopping, local info, news, video, sports and blogs and prefer apps for games, social media, maps and music.

3) Mobile searches have quadrupled in the last year, for many items one in seven searches are now mobile.

• Did you know 71 percent of smartphone users that see TV, press or online ad, do a mobile search - will they find your mobile site or your competitors’?

4) SMS is the king of mobile messaging. 8 trillion text messages will be sent in 2011.But consumers are also embracing mobile email, IM and MMS rapidly.
A2P -application to person SMS e.g. automated alerts from banks, offers from retailers, m-tickets is expected to overtake person to person SMS in 2016.

 • Is your opt-in CRM database part of that revolution?

5) Mobile ad spend worldwide is predicted to be US$3.3 billion in 2011 sky rocketing to $20.6 billion in 2015, driven by search ads and local ads.  In the US over half of U.S. mobile ad spending is local – Japan particularly – continues to dominate global mobile ad spend.

 • With US$1 billion in annual mobile ad revenues Google is the main recipient of mobile ad spend.

6) To what types of mobile marketing do people respond best? In the UK and France opt-in SMS gets the best results, in Germany mobile Web ads get  best results.