Results of the ongoing consumer study were presented in London on 16 June, and based on consumer research carried out in the US, UK, France and Germany, using a sample of 2,500 respondents, representative of the population and including feedback from consumers as young as 12 years old.
"A quarter of people in the UK and a third in the US now own a smartphone and this growth is set to continue, with Futuresource research showing that three in four people across the UK and US will own a smartphone by 2014," said Alison Casey, Head of Global Content at Futuresource Consulting. "The ever-increasing presence of smartphones across all four territories surveyed in our 'Living With Digital' study has seen greatest adoption of iPhone, HTC and Blackberry phones by the younger consumer, with the higher percentage of owners being under 25."
Across all territories, smartphones are being used to access a wide variety of entertainment content. Casey revealed that "Facebook is a keystone for driving mobile internet usage, being the most visited site across all territories, followed by Google and YouTube, although in the UK YouTube relinquishes its third place position to the BBC, which is accessed by 44% of smartphone owners using mobile internet."
User generated content (UGC) was another area flagged during Casey's presentation, which continues to account for the majority of video watched online via mobile devices, although she stated that users are also viewing clips, trailers and music videos.
Looking to the Apps market, the phenomenal uptake of smartphones and mobile devices has seen the segment skyrocket, providing users with an abundance of choice covering everything from communication to location-based, from education to entertainment. The staggering 10bn App downloads in 2010 resulted in $4bn in revenue.
"With over 25% of smartphone owners surveyed in the UK and US downloading Apps to their phones, this market will continue to thrive," said Casey. "Gaming is the main driver for App downloads, across all four territories and 65% of smartphone owners regularly playing games on their phones. This is closely followed by social networking and music, with more than 40% downloading social networking Apps across all territories."
The focus on what consumers are willing to pay for when accessing content on smartphones and mobile devices continues to influence the App development. A prevalent area of income for the Apps market is in-App purchasing, which has started to emerge as a considerable revenue contributor.
Apple iPhone users are downloading the most games and most frequently paying for content, with one in three users making 'in App' purchases compared to other smartphone users, one in ten Blackberry and Android users are also making 'in App' purchases.
"Moving forward, the industry needs to be aware of the considerable percentage of phone owners - particularly in the UK - that are still using Pay-as-You-Go services, as Futuresource research shows users on contract tariffs are far more likely to pay for content and downloads. Strategies need to be in place to transition consumers towards a contract mentality."
In closing, Casey highlighted that the non-transferable nature of Apps between operating systems is driving brand loyalty and defined what this may mean for content providers and App developers alike. Brand loyalty was shown to be particularly relevant to iPhone owners, with 54% intending to commit to the Apple brand in order to keep the Apps they have come to depend upon.
"Apps for smartphones and tablets continue to offer significant opportunities for promoting and monetizing games, books, movie and TV content," said Casey. "Although the market is in its early stages, tablets will become the portable device for entertainment in the future, generating a new breed of applications and services that will breath additional life into this already lucrative market segment."
'Living With Digital' is a regular consumer survey, carried out twice a year. This study covers topics such as connectivity, attitudes towards online content - including whether consumers are paying for online content and downloads, entertainment content consumption and mobile devices. The complete in-depth 'Living With Digital' study is available as a report from Futuresource Consulting.
Futuresource Consulting is a specialist research and knowledge-based consulting company, providing organisations with insight into consumer electronics, digital imaging, entertainment media, broadcast, storage media, education technology and IT. With a heritage stretching back to the 1980s, the company delivers in-depth analysis and forecasts on a global scale, advising on strategic positioning, market trends, competitive forces and technological developments. futuresource-consulting.com
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