Is the UK really ‘addicted’ to smartphones?


Even though most of the nation does not actually own a smartphone, Ofcom claimed today the UK is addicted to the likes of iPhone, BlackBerry and Android devices.

A quarter of adults and almost half of all teenagers now own a smartphone, according to Ofcom's latest Communications Market Report.

Of those, 37 per cent of adults and 60 per cent of teens admitted they were highly addicted,' indicating most of the former demographic are not really that hooked on their smartphones.

The data also showed the rise of the smartphone has disrupted the work/life balance, with 24 per cent admitting to regularly taking work calls when on holiday. Of course, that means the vast majority do not use their device regularly when on a break.

Nevertheless, for businesses, the rise of smartphone use has led to worries for the IT department in ensuring those devices don't compromise company security and data.

"Businesses could look to actually cut costs by enabling staff to use one, combined mobile connected device for both work and play," said Neil Armstrong, marketing director for unified communications provider Timico.

"There's an opportunity for employers to accept and embrace this development, rather than fight what looks increasingly like a losing battle."

Smartphone tipping point' coming?

Despite Ofcom's addiction claims, most of the UK doesn't actually own a smartphone, with most having standard feature phones. That does look set to change in the near future, however.

Overall, 26 per cent of the entire UK population owns a smartphone, compared to 63 per cent who own a standard mobile feature phone.

It appears a tipping point, where smartphone users overtake the number of feature phone owners, is not too far away. Of those adults who owned a smartphone, 59 per cent bought one in the last year. A third bought one in the last six months, indicating the rise of the smartphone is "a relatively new phenomenon," Ofcom said.

A recent report in the Guardian indicated more UK mobile users will have a smartphone than those with a feature phone by mid-2012. Kantar Worldpanel ComTech data showed that some 2.5 per cent of feature phone users had switched to a smartphone every month since April last year.

The data agreed with Ofcom's assessment that 63 per cent of British consumers still own a non-smartphone.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.