Smartphones are beginning to move out of their traditional business-user niche, and into the mainstream, reports market research firm Telephia. Additionally, Western Europeans are acquiring smartphones at twice the rate of their U.S. counterparts, a new report from the firm suggests.
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In the third quarter of 2006, the rate of smartphone acquisition as a percentage of new handset purchases in Western Europe more than doubled that in the U.S., according to Telephia.
Penetration of Smartphones in Europe and the U.S. Among Recent Phone Buyers
Italy Spain U.K. Sweden Germany France U.S. 8.8% 19.2% 9.5% 7.5% 3.6% 4.9% 3.5% 3.8% * Note: “Western Europe” includes France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the U.K.
Telephia defines “smartphones” as “a class of mobile handsets with a mobile operating system such as Symbian, Microsoft OS, RIM, or Palm.”
In addition to the substantial difference between Western European and U.S. smartphone penetration rates during Q3 of 2006, Telephia's data also identified “significant differences” among the European countries, as indicated in the above chart.
According to Reza Chady, Telephia's Managing Director for Europe, “Italy has been at the forefront of driving mobile development and penetration in Europe and is also leading the adoption of smartphones by far. More than 95 percent of all Italians own a mobile phone and almost one in five buyers of new phones in the last six months (19.2 percent) bought smartphones.”
Telephia noted that high speed networks like 3G have been available longer in Europe than in the U.S. “To get the best out of these faster networks, mobile consumers were motivated to purchase more advanced devices like smartphones which provided a better experience with data applications,” Chady explained.
Additionally, he noted that “Italians consistently spend the most on devices and data usage as compared to the other European countries. Moreover, Italian Internet penetration is less than the UK or Germany, for example, and smartphone devices with advanced capabilities provide an excellent opportunity for content owners to entice Italians accessing the Web using their phone.”
Adoption growing by “mainstream mobile users”
Traditionally, smartphones primarily have been marketed to business customers. However, Telephia believes this is about to change, as a result the growing number of “stylish and sleek” smartphone devices that have been introduced recently in both Europe and the U.S
According to Telephia, this shift has already begun in Europe. “Young professionals in Europe aged 25-34 were the largest group of smartphone owners in Q3 2006, followed by 35-44 year olds,” the research firm notes, as shown in the following chart.
Gender and Age Distribution of Recent Phone Buyers in Europe
% Smartphone users in Q1 2006 % of Smartphone users in Q3 2006 % of all mobile users in Q3 2006 Gender Male 68% 63% 49% Female 32% 37% 51% Age 15-17 10% 7% 7% 18-24 22% 15% 17% 25-34 29% 34% 27% 35-44 19% 20% 22% 45-54 12% 16% 15% 55+ 8% 8% 11%
“Young professionals accounted for 27 percent of all mobile users, but posted a higher penetration rate of 34 percent among smartphone users,” Chady said. “However, the gap has closed between smartphone and the general mobile user profile among all other age groups in the latest quarter. In addition, the proportion of women smartphone owners is increasing although they currently still seem to be predominantly owned by men in most countries.”
Examples of new smartphones that are attractive to “mainstream mobile users” include the Blackberry Pearl, Sony Ericsson's P990i, and Nokia's E61 in Europe, and the Moto Q and Palm Treo 680 in the U.S.
“These represent a breed of smartphones that are designed to cater to the mainstream mobile user — touting consumer-friendly features like music players and cameras, while maintaining the software applications and other functionality championed by business users,” added Chady.
For further information on Telephia's latest “European Subscriber and Device Report,” visit the company's website.
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