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The UK is fast becoming a smartphone-dependent society, with penetration now reaching 76% of UK adults, who collectively check their devices 1.1 billion times a day, the equivalent of almost 400 billion times a year, according to business advisory Deloitte.
The firm has just published its fifth annual Mobile Consumer report, analysing the mobile usage habits of more than 4,000 people in the UK – out of a global sample of close to 50,000.
The data reveals that this year alone, 32 million smartphones will be shipped in the UK, the equivalent of one for every other person in the country.
Over a third of these devices will be looked at more than 25 times daily, said Deloitte, and a sixth will be checked more than 50 times a day.
It also claimed that one in 10 smartphone owners reach for their devices immediately on waking, 55% do so within 15 minutes of getting up, and 28% check their phones just before going to bed.
There was no let-up during the course of the day, either, said Deloitte. Two-thirds of smartphone owners use their devices on public transport, 65% at work, and almost a third while eating out. Unsurprisingly, all of these figures were found to be far higher among 18 to 24-year-olds, a fifth of whom said they check their phones when crossing the road.
Deloitte head of technology, media and telecoms research, Paul Lee, said these extreme usage patterns demonstrate that smartphones are arguably one of the best value devices available.
“For the sixth of smartphone owners who look at their devices 50 times or more a day, the cost per glance is less than two pence a day for a £700 handset kept for two years. And that’s before allowing for trade-in value,” he said.
Naturally, these 1.1 billion daily interactions also involve vast amounts of data, with photo sharing, internet calling and video streaming easier than ever thanks to the widening availability of 4G networks. Deloitte found that 30% of smartphone owners now use 4G.
The prevalence of 4G means mobile carriers and network operators are responding to identify applications that nurture higher demand for data, said Ed Marsden, Deloitte lead telecoms partner.
Tapping into an already well-established concern among mobile operators, Marsden said: “UK telecoms companies have copious data and information about their customers. However, the industry’s inertia around monetising this information has allowed a number of Silicon Valley giants to gain traction.
“It will be interesting to see whether UK telecoms companies will look to develop new revenue streams in the coming years as demand for connectivity continues to grow.”
Little traction for mobile payments
Ahead of the widely anticipated launch of the next generation of Apple’s iPhone, Deloitte’s survey found a significant increase in the number of adults using smartphones to make mobile payments, rising from 3% in May 2014 to 13% in May 2015.
It revealed, however, that only 1% of owners were using their devices to make payments on a daily basis, and barriers to entry were perceived by many to be very high.
Deloitte found 42% of smartphone owners were concerned about security flaws in mobile payment systems, while 35% said they didn’t see any real benefits in the technology and 22% lacked the necessary features or apps on their devices.
According to Lee, the growing number of mobile payment systems on the market meant it would eventually become more widely accepted.
“Within the next year, we would expect around 10% of smartphone owners to regularly make mobile payments. Early adopters may choose to leave home without the need to carry a wallet or purse.
“However, for the mainstream consumer, it will be many years before credit cards are dispensed of entirely, and cash’s anonymity may well mean it remains in circulation for generations,” he said.