UK leads Europe in Smartphone race

comScore released a study of the smartphone market in Europe showing that smartphone adoption in the EU5 (U.K., France, Germany, Spain, Italy) has grown 32 percent versus a year ago to 51.6 million subscribers. Whilst growth can be seen across the range of monthly subscription fees, the mid to low tier is growing faster than high tier subscriptions in each of the EU5 markets.

The U.K. market strongly leads in growth of smartphone adoption over the past year, growing 70 percent to more than 11 million subscribers. France ranks second in growth with the number of smartphone subscribers up 48 percent to 7 million. Meanwhile, Italy boasts the largest number of smartphone subscribers overall (15 million) but showed the softest growth in this market at 11 percent.

Smartphone Subscribers
3 Month Average Ending Jan. 2010 vs. 3 Month Average Ending Jan. 2009
Total EU5 (UK, DE, FR, ES and IT), Age 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Smartphone Subscribers (000)
Jan-09 Jan-10 % Change
EU5 38,994 51,623 32%
U.K. 6,525 11,109 70%
France 4,842 7,140 48%
Germany 6,309 8,429 34%
Spain 7,809 9,907 27%
Italy 13,510 15,037 11%

One of the interesting findings is that it’s not all Apple out there. The largest share of the smartphone market across the EU5 is from Symbian devices 60.9% with Apple only just in second place with 14.5%,  and Microsoft hot on its tale with 14.1%. In the UK the positions are different with Symbian still coming out on top with 46.9%, Apple in a much stronger second place with 20.5% and in third place is RIM with 18.7%.

Top Smartphone Platforms
3 Month Average Ending Jan. 2010
Total EU5 (UK, DE, FR, ES and IT), Age 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Share (%) of Smartphone Subscribers
Total Smartphone Subscribers 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Symbian 60.9% 46.9% 55.1% 40.7% 73.5% 75.7%
Apple 14.5% 20.5% 15.3% 29.9% 6.5% 7.7%
Microsoft 14.1% 10.7% 19.9% 20.0% 12.8% 11.4%
RIM 8.3% 18.7% 6.8% 5.4% 5.2% 4.7%
Google 2.0% 3.0% 2.2% 3.7% 1.8% 0.4%

In evaluating monthly subscription fees, the high tier (greater than £35 in U.K. and €50 in Euro currency countries) is not growing as strongly as the mid to low tier. The U.K. has the highest pace of both mid to low tier adoption (up 76 percent) and high-tier adoption (up 60 percent), followed by France (52 percent and 43 percent, respectively).

“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,” says Alistair Hill, senior mobile analyst at comScore. “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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