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The Communications Market 2010: UK

Take-up of smartphones mirrors the take-up of mobile internet

The large majority of mobile handsets in use are capable of providing internet access. MobileSQUARED estimate that 91% of handsets in use in mid-2010 were categorised either as 'smartphones' (phones that use an advanced operating system that facilitates the development and installation of third party applications which can be downloaded via the internet) or 'feature phones' (phones which are less advanced and support a simpler range of applications). Just 9% of handsets in use were categorised as 'legacy phones'; incapable of accessing the internet.

The take-up in the use of the internet on mobile phones has mirrored the increase in take-up of smartphones . Research from comScore Inc. finds that in May 2010, 26.5% of UK mobile phone users claimed to have a smartphone , more than double the number of two years' before. Growth has been particularly strong over the past year, growing by 81% from 7.2 million users in May 2009 to 12.8 million in May 2010 (Figure 5.19).

The number of mobile users with smartphones designed for internet access looks set to increase. In June 2010, nearly three-quarters (73.5%) of handsets sold with post-pay mobile contracts were smartphones . The arrival of smartphones based on Android (the open-source mobile operating system developed by Google) has extended choice, and relatively new players in the UK handset business, such as ZTE, Acer and Huawei, are now announcing targets to win significant parts of UK smartphone market share. Several of them, under their own brands or under the operators' brand names, aim to offer low-cost smartphones, with some models priced at under 100 . Meanwhile, established smartphone manufacturers have enhanced their offerings, with Apple launching the iPhone 3GS in June 2009 and iPhone 4 in June 2010 and Research in Motion increasingly marketing its Blackberry-branded smartphones to the consumer segment.


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