IDG Global Survey Shows Smartphone Use Growing Rapidly with Regional Differences

Cellphone on its Way Out; Majority of Respondents Plan to Buy Tablets

LONDON & FRAMINGHAM, Mass.--()--Mobile devices are gaining popularity very rapidly worldwide. An online survey by IDG Global Solutions (IGS) identified differences in favored smartphone brands and usage by region, but it is clear that the traditional cellphone is fading fast. Almost 13, 700 people from 16 countries completed surveys last February and March that were promoted across IDG media brands including Computerworld, PCWorld, Network World, CIO and Macworld.

More than two-thirds of the respondents worldwide said they use a smartphone for personal (73%) or business (69%) purposes. Apple, Blackberry, Nokia, and Sony Ericsson dominate the market depending on the country. In business and personal use, Nokia and Apple lead the way in Europe. In the US, Apple (29%) and Blackberry (26%) are very competitive for business users whereas Samsung (15%) is second to Apple (33%) for personal use.

Smartphone Use

Smartphone owners show a new behavior: 70% browse the Internet regularly and use mobile applications. These devices are no longer limited to calls, email, and text messages as people go online from home, on the move, and in the office. When surfing the web on smartphones, respondents indicated that general and IT news are most popular, followed by social networking access.

GPS navigation topped instant messaging as an application. Most countries’ GPS usage surpassed 50% led by Finland (77%), Sweden (75%), Denmark (88%), Brazil (68%), Australia (66%), Germany (57%), Spain (56%), US (54%), and UK (41%). Instant messaging use reached 68% in Brazil, China (67%), and Mexico (64%). Behind Canada’s 46% are Italy, Spain, Netherlands, and Sweden at between 43%-to-48% and the US (40%), France (38%), Germany (34%), and UK (26%).

Geolocation use for vouchers, deals, and offers is not a major factor in most geographies: China (42%), Brazil (31%), Italy (30%), and US (29%).

App Downloads

According to the IGS survey, app vendors are in good position. A large majority of respondents said they download apps to their phones and also pay for apps. Two-thirds regularly use between one to seven apps with the most popular being general news, social media, gaming, and IT news.

Tablets Taking Off

Twenty percent of all respondents own a tablet. Tablet growth is set to take off over the next 12 months as 67% are planning to buy one. Apple owns this category in all countries with 80% market share, followed by Samsung Galaxy at 9% worldwide. The IGS survey revealed that half of all tablet owners use it for work.

The most popular uses are web browsing (93%), email (84%), mobile apps (72%), watching videos (69%), and reading publications (66%).

Sixty-seven percent of all tablet owners share it with colleagues or family, spreading the tablet experience to much more than the 20% ownership figure.

Data Commentary

IDC reported last month that the worldwide smartphone market is expected to grow by 55% this year compared with 2010. Vendors are projected to ship 472 million phones in 2011. IDC, an IDG subsidiary, predicts the Android operating system will own 40% of the market in the second half of this year, posing a serious threat to Apple, Nokia, and Blackberry.

“The dramatic growth in smartphone and tablet use is exciting news for media companies as their audiences can browse the Internet and engage with brands 24/7,” said Christina Carstensen, director, Mobile Strategy, IGS in London. “The new technologies have changed user behavior and expectations. Our survey shows that tablets are an unstoppable trend this year with two-thirds of consumers planning to buy a tablet in the coming months.”

“Tech marketers are recognizing the value of mobile advertising as the device market heats up,” said Matthew Yorke, president, IGS. “I expect spending on mobile to rise sharply in the coming year much like what happened with social media marketing over the past two years.”

IGS is IDG’s single point of contact for media planning and multi-platform media buying across more than 90 countries.

About International Data Group

International Data Group (IDG) is the world's leading technology media, events and research company. IDG’s media brands – including CIO®, CSO®, Computerworld®, GamePro®, InfoWorld®, Macworld®, Network World®, PCWorld® and TechWorld® – reach an audience of more than 200 million technology buyers in 90 countries.

Online, IDG’s network features more than 450 websites spanning business technology, consumer technology, digital entertainment, and video games worldwide. The IDG TechNetwork represents more than 460 independent websites in an ad network complementary to IDG’s media brands. IDG® is also a leading producer of more than 700 technology-related events, including Macworld® 2011, E3 Expo®, DEMO®, SNW™, and IDC Directions®.

IDG’s marketing services include lead generation with IDG Connect®, custom publishing, social Web marketing with IDG Amplify® ads and IDG Social Scout™ analysis and program development, and IDG Market Fusion™ research and content optimization.

IDC®, a subsidiary of IDG, is the premier global provider of market intelligence; advisory services; and events in IT, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. Over 1,000 IDC analysts in more than 110 countries provide global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends.

Additional information about IDG, a privately held company, is available at

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Christina Carstensen, +44 1784 210 341
Howard Sholkin, 508-766-5610

Release Summary

IDG Global Solutions research shows two-thirds of respondents use smartphones and a majority of people plan to buy tablets within the year. Web access and GPS navigation top list of uses.


Christina Carstensen, +44 1784 210 341
Howard Sholkin, 508-766-5610