This morning Google is releasing research, conducted by Ipsos in September-October of 2011, that shows mobile device adoption and usage trends in five countries. According to the survey findings, 38 percent of US mobile subscribers own smartphones. However these numbers do not reflect Q4 holiday sales. Indeed, Nielsen has said that 46 percent of US mobile users now have smartphones. Verizon also reported this week that 44 percent of its mobile customers have smartphones.
The Google-Ipsos data compare the US with the UK, France, Germany and Japan. The research documents the shift from feature phones to smartphones, the adoption of tablets and the rise of mobile internet access. The highest penetration of smartphones was found in the UK, at 45 percent (see graphic, right).
According to the findings, 69 percent of US mobile users access the internet on their phones daily. An even larger percentage of Japanese users (88 percent) access the internet on mobile devices every day.
In every market studied mobile phone penetration is higher than PC or laptop ownership. This is already well established, but the data confirm that mobile internet usage will one day trump PC usage.
In addition, the report documents the rise of tablets in the five countries examined. For example, the survey reflects 17 percent tablet ownership in the US. Again, these numbers were developed before the holiday quarter, which saw sales of 15 million iPads and several million Kindle Fire devices.
According to survey data from the Pew Internet Project also released this week, 19 percent of Americans now own tablets. I calculated that means about 45 million people in the US now own tablets.
The Google-Ipsos data also show that smartphone users continue to access the internet from their PCs. That’s to be expected. But the market is becoming more complex and fragmented. We’re now living in a multi-screen world, with tablets emerging as an important “fourth screen.” And for retailers, tablets are a critical channel that many have so far failed to take advantage of.
In my “12 mobile predictions for 2012” article I projected that by the end of 2011, 65 percent of US mobile subscribers will have smartphones and 35 percent will own feature phones. That may turn out to be a bit aggressive but we’re already very close to 50 percent.
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