Operating systems are more important than handset brands when UK consumers are purchasing a new phone, according to new research.
A report by ComScore repeated a claim by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech earlier this week that the majority of the UK's handsets are now smartphones. ComScore said there were 25.4 million smartphones in the UK by the end of last year, 51.3% of total devices. At the end of 2010, smartphones only accounted for 34.2% of total handsets.
The report said: 'Some key factors accelerating smartphone adoption across these markets are the proliferation of 3G and 4G networks, innovations in device functionality and applications, and aggressive pricing. While the newest models of many high-demand smartphones continue to have higher price points, earlier models are increasingly being offered to consumers at very low costs.'
The report surveyed the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. Across the five European countries, it said network quality was the biggest driver behind buying a new device, followed by cost of monthly service and then the phone's operating system. The brand name of the phone was the least important driver.
ComScore said the UK was one of the most evolved smartphone markets, with the devices surpassing feature phones by May 2010. This compared favourably to the US (smartphones overtook feature phones in July 2011), Germany (January 2011) and Italy and Canada (both June 2011). The UK is second only to Singapore for internet traffic on mobile and tablet devices. Ten per cent of all traffic was via these devices, compared to 11% in Singapore. Over half (56.6%) of all phone owners, now use their phones to browse the web, download content and access apps. The report said this was fuelled by the popularity of smartphones, growing availability of Wi-Fi and the proliferation of 3G.
Nokia remained the most popular phone manufacturer, with a 24.4% share among all devices. Samsung was second with 19.9% and Apple was third with 13.6%. However, among smartphones Apple dominates with a 26.4% share. HTC is next with 18.5% and RIM third with 18.3%.
Despite Apple's smartphone dominance among UK consumers, Android was the most popular operating system after it leaped in popularity by almost 100% over 12 months to 36.6%. Demand for Nokia's Symbian system slumped from 29.6% to 12.5%. Apple's iOS was second with 26.4%, down from 27.4% the previous year and RIM was third with 18.3%, down from 17.1%.
The report said: 'Operating systems are not only competing for first-time smartphone owners, but also for the loyalty of their current audience base, as attractive offers from carriers and improving features from competitors are constantly putting market share at risk.
'As seen with RIM, which shed half of its U.S. market share in the last 12 months, competition is fierce and market position can drastically change in a very short period of time in this rapidly evolving mobile landscape.'
Editor: Graeme Neill