How big is the UK smartphone market?

Good question. And one every app developer should be asking him or her self.

UK mobile internet access

According to research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published in August 2013, 61% of the adult population in Great Britain uses a mobile device to access the internet. Of these, 53% use a mobile or smartphone, 32% a laptop or tablet computer and 11% an EBook reader or something similar. According to the ONS:

“Access to the Internet using a mobile phone more than doubled between 2010 and 2013, from 24% to 53% [of adults in Great Britain].”

Here’s the breakdown by age group:

Internet use on a mobile phone by age group 2010 and 2013 - ONS

[Source: Office for National Statistics]

Note that amongst 16-24 year-olds almost 9 in 10 used a mobile phone to access the internet. Similar figures were observed for the 25-34 and 35-44 year-olds.

UK smartphone market

Given the sizable slice of the internet access pie that mobile phone usage represents, it is interesting to see some projections of growth in the use of smartphones.

Estimates of the growth of the UK smartphone market were published by eMarketer in June 2013. They reckon that this year we will see about 30.9 million smartphone users in the UK, which amount to 48.4% of UK residents and 60.4% of UK mobile phone users.

The number of smartphone users in the UK is forecast to rise to 43.4 million by 2017, which will represent 65.8% of the population and an incredible 80.9% of mobile phone users.

The boring bit, which we kind of know, is that amongst mobile phone users between the ages of 12-54, about 80% use a smartphone today, and it is estimated that their smartphone usage will  reach saturation by 2017.

The interesting bits lie at either end of the bell curve. In the age group 0-11 smartphone usage  will almost double from 45.1% in 2013 to 72.4% in 2017.

But, and this truly is staggering, in the age group 55-64 usage will grow from 37% to 68% in 2017. A burgeoning market which in 2011 represented a mere 15% of the total population in that age group.

As for the 65+ group smartphone takeup is estimated to rise from 13% to 41% in 2017. Remember that these are the tail end of the baby boomers who are living longer and still have plenty of disposable income and, according to recent TUC research, is remaining in work past retirement age.

About Colby Benari

Colby has been running District Health since the summer of 2013. Her background is in biomedical science and support of academic research infrastructure.

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