Three-Quarters of Australians Currently Own a Smartphone; 93% by 2018
Australia's smartphone penetration in 2013 has been estimated at nearly three-quarters (73%) in the 15 to 65 age group and Frost & Sullivan predicts this to reach 93% by 2018, when it is likely that virtually all mobile phones will have built-in smartphone functionality.
Tablet penetration in Australian households is also forecast to increase significantly from 49% in 2013 to 80% in 2018. Tablet growth will outpace that of smartphones, which are a more mature device closer to maximum penetration," says Phil Harpur, Senior Research Manager, Australia & New Zealand, Frost & Sullivan.
Nearly half of all smartphone users say that regularly engaging with mobile media is the main way they utilise their smartphone. Harpur explains, "As smartphone functionality continues to improve with higher resolutions and larger screens, faster internet access via 4G networks and higher data downloads, this percentage will increase significantly over the next few years."
The voice function of smartphones will become less important to users as other options for communication become more accessible. Instant chat apps such as WhatsApp will be more popular than SMS. "Accessing social networking along with searching for jobs, houses to rent and cars to buy will continue to increase in popularity of the next few years. Booking travel and accommodation through mobile devices, laptops and PC's is gaining popularity with nearly 60% of consumers doing this at least once every six months," Harpur elaborates.
With faster wireless networks and improvements in screen size and resolution, over 50% of smartphone users are watching user generated videos on sites like Youtube. Video content viewing on mobile devices is expected to grow significantly over the next few years as data caps increase and the range and quality of content increases from a growing ecosystem of providers.
Downloading or streaming music on smartphones is another popular activity, the latter of which will be a major disrupter to the business model of the traditional music industry. Harpur states, "Fewer consumers will opt to pay for individual albums, whether CDs or DVDs or music purchased online through iTunes. Physical formats will gradually give way in favour of preference for music downloads or cloud streaming. Eventually, cloud streaming formats will dominate as a subscription model enabling access to a full library of music."
The Android operating system / platform has overtaken the Apple iOS as the most popular smartphone operating platform and is being used by an increasing number of mobile phone vendors including Samsung, HTC, ARM and Motorola. Samsung in particular, has grown its market share significantly over the past 12 months. Apple's market share of smartphones in use is predicted to drop further over the next few years and by 2017 Apple's market share is predicted to be less than 30%.
Apple's iPad dominates the tablet market, both locally and internationally, but this dominance will weaken as other players in the market improve their functionality and more vendors enter the market with cheaper price points. Just in the last 12 months, Apple's market share in Australia of the tablet market has dropped from 69% to 60%, and it is expected to fall significantly lower over the next few years.
Viewing online video and user generated content on sites such as YouTube are the most popular activities on tablets and this is expected to increase considerably over the next five years. 39% of tablet owners watch this type of content very frequently i.e. on most days. More consumers at home will watch videos on tablets in preference to TV's and usage will also increase with higher consumer mobility and faster wireless networks.
More than 50% of tablet users regularly view news articles on an internet site or m-site or via an app. Whilst the frequency and level at which Australians view news on smartphones and tablets still trails the traditional channels of TV and print, usage is expected to increase extensively over the next few years, challenging print as the most popular channel to access written content. "Australian publishers could mitigate declining print revenues and boost readership and revenues from digital channels by offering more content optimised for the tablet," finished Harpur.