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March 31, 2010

UK leads European smartphone adoption

Mid to low tier growing faster than high tier subscriptions

By CBR Staff Writer

Smartphone adoption in the EU5 (the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy) has increased 32% to 51.6 million subscribers, compared to the same period a year ago, according to a study by comScore.

According to the study, the mid to low tier is growing faster than high tier subscriptions in each of the EU5 markets. Smartphone adoption growth has been highest in the UK market with more than 11 million subscribers, accounting for 70% growth compared to same period last year.

France stood in the second place with smartphone subscribers up 48% to 7 million. It is followed by Germany and Spain at third and fourth with 34% and 27% growth, respectively. Italy, which boasts the largest number of smartphone subscribers 15 million overall, increased by 11% compared to same period a year ago.

When it comes to monthly subscription fees, the high tier (greater than £35 in UK and €50 in Euro currency countries) is not growing as strongly as the mid to low tier. The UK market has the highest pace of both mid to low tier adoption (up 76%) and high-tier adoption (up 60%), followed by France (52% and 43%, respectively). Germany saw 41% growth in mid to low tier segment and 18% growth in high-tier segment, followed by Spain (40% and 9%, respectively) and Italy (14% and 4%, respectively).

In smartphone platforms, Symbian took the top spot with 60.9% share of smartphone subscribers, Apple gained the second spot with 14.5%, followed by Microsoft, RIM and Google with 14.1%, 8.3% and 2%, respectively.

Alistair Hill, senior mobile analyst at comScore, said: “Smartphones are generally seen as luxury devices that come with big price tags and high monthly tariffs, yet the largest segment of the market and the one demonstrating greatest momentum is actually the low to mid tier. The growth in these tiers suggests that as smartphones become more affordable to the majority of European consumers, their proliferation will increase considerably and lead to a surge in mobile content and data consumption.

“Such market dynamics offer substantial opportunity for different players in the mobile ecosystem – from operators and manufacturers to publishers and advertisers – and underscore the importance of competing for customers now to engender long-term loyalty.”

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