Ofcom survey sheds light on popularity of mobile devices

News 18 Jul, 2012

The number of UK households using tablets and smartphones has risen sharply over last 12 months, research shows.

Smartphone and tablet ownership has rapidly increased over the past 12 months in the UK, Ofcom has revealed.

The regulator’s research shows 39 per cent of UK adults now own a smartphone, which is 12 percentage points higher than last year’s figures.

Thirty-nine per cent of smartphone owners said the device was the main one they used to access the internet, with 42 per cent using them to visit social networking sites and 51 per cent to send emails.

The uptick in smartphone usage has also changed people's shopping habits, the research claims.

For instance, more than half of smartphone owners use their device to take photos of products, make online price comparisons and read reviews.

Tablet ownership has also risen rapidly over the past year. Two per cent of households owned one in 2011 and this figure now stands at 11 per cent.

More than a third of tablet owners said they could not live without their device and 17 per cent said they plan to buy another one this year.

James Thickett, director of research at Ofcom, said the company’s findings show that technology users are spending less time talking face-to-face with people.

“Newer forms of communications are emerging which don’t require us to talk to each other – especially among younger age groups. This trend is set to continue as technology advances and we move further into the digital age,” he added.

George Wareing, head of mobile and broadcast at operator Virgin Media Business, said mobile data volumes have increased by 250 per cent over the last two years, as mobile device use has grown.

This is a situation that poses a huge challenge to mobile operators, he added. "There is a delicate balance between customer demand, customer experience and costs.

"Operators need to think about the long-term impact and put in place a strategy that'll make sure customers aren't affected by a potential bottlenecking of services," he added.