ComScore, a leader in measuring the digital world, released the 2012 Mobile Future in Focus Report that gives insight on the mobile and connected device landscape in 2011 and what that brings in 2012.

The annual report covers several mobile markets (United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Japan, and Canada) that have been measured by comScore through an exploration of key trends driving smartphone adoption growth, mobile media usage in categories such as social networking and retail, mobile ecosystem dynamics, and shifts in multi-device digital media consumption in 2011.

“2011 proved to be a groundbreaking year for the mobile industry, with smartphones hitting the mainstream, tablets emerging as a formidable fourth screen, and consumers increasingly integrating mobile behaviors into their lifestyles. As the industry continues to innovate and more consumers look to multiple devices and platforms to consume digital media, we expect the mobile and connected device landscape to be shaken up even further in 2012,” said Mark Donovan, comScore Senior Vice President of Mobile. “As mobile channels present a more personal, social, and ubiquitous experience to consumers, advertisers and publishers have an opportunity to better engage target audiences, given an understanding of how to connect and leverage the unique characteristics of these emerging platforms.”

Key findings highlighted in the report include:

  • Smartphones gain adoption among ‘early majority’, driving mobile media consumption
    Nearly 42% of all U.S. mobile subscribers now use smartphones, along with 44.0% of mobile users across the EU5 (comprised of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK). Mobile media use – defined as browsing the mobile web, accessing applications, or downloading content – saw increased growth as a result, surpassing the 50-percent threshold in many markets, supported by the proliferation of high-speed networks and increased public WiFi availability.

  • Smartphone platform wars intensify as Android and Apple take the lead in most markets
    The Google Android and Apple iOS smartphone platforms emerged as the leaders of the U.S. smartphone market in 2011, with Android just a few points shy of capturing half of the smartphone market and iOS accounting for nearly 30% of the market. In the EU5, Android saw similarly significant gains, unseating market leader Symbian in 3 out of the 5 European markets measured.

    The market in Japan is particularly interesting in that sense that smartphones currently represent just 17% of the market – far below what is seen for the North American and European markets reported by comScore. However, the Japanese market is unique since consumers have long had access to advanced phone capabilities through feature phone offerings exclusive to the Japanese market, presenting an initial barrier to entry for smartphones. Thus, today, Japan’s smartphone market is heavily dominated by the Android and iOS platforms, with the two combining for 94.1% of the smartphone market. Microsoft was the only other platform with any notable slice of the market at 5.4%. While smartphone penetration still remains low in this market, we should expect to see the numbers climb substantially in the next year given continuing innovations made to smartphone functionality and the wide availability of these devices at more affordable price points.

  • Surge in mobile app usage shapes a dual mobile browsing experience, fueling category growth
    In 2011, both the U.S. and EU5 saw the growth in mobile app use exceed the growth in mobile browser use, leading to both markets seeing the same percentage of their mobile audience use both apps and browsers to access mobile media.

Health ranked as the fastest-growing mobile media category in the U.S. in 2011, followed by retail and other commerce-related categories such as e-Payments and auction sites.

  • Mobile retail information leads to emergence of smartphone shopping behaviors
    More than half of the U.S. smartphone population used their phone to perform retail research while inside a store in 2011, illustrating the emergence of savvy smartphone shoppers who bring online shopping behaviors in-store – a trend seen in other markets as well. At the end of 2011, nearly 1 in 5 smartphone users scanned product barcodes and nearly 1 in 8 compared prices on their phone while in a store.

  • Mobile devices fuel social networking on-the-go, driving real-time online interaction
    64.2 million U.S. smartphone users and 48.4 million EU5 smartphone users accessed social networking sites or blogs on their mobile devices at least once in December 2011, with more than half of these mobile social networking users accessing social media almost every day. While mobile social networking users showed the highest propensity to read posts from people they knew personally, more than half of those in the U.S. and nearly half in the EU5 also reported reading posts from brands, organizations, and events.

  • Mobile connectivity and connected devices encourage cross-platform digital media consumption among ‘digital omnivores’
    Tablets quickly rose in popularity in 2011, taking less than two years to account for nearly 40 million tablets in use among U.S. mobile users and outpacing smartphones which took 7 years to reach the same. By the end of 2011, nearly 15% of U.S. mobile users also had tablets – a trend seen across other markets as well.

Around the world mobile phones and tablets increasingly become a gateway to the web. In an analysis of 10 selected worldwide markets, Singapore led in driving the highest share of non-computer Internet traffic at more than 11%t at the end of the year. The UK followed, with nearly 10% of traffic coming from mobile phones, tablets and other connected devices. These two markets also drove the highest percentage of mobile Internet traffic among the markets studied. Japan ranked third in driving mobile Internet traffic at nearly 6%. This shift in global device consumption is not only of paramount importance to local brands and digital ecosystems, but also for multinational brands seeking to understand their audiences across borders and across screens.

To download a complimentary copy of 2012 Mobile Future in Focus report, please visit:

By Daniela La Marca