New statistics published today show that the UK is now awash with smartphones with two thirds of all handsets now being sold falling into the smartphone category. However, another report, published simultaneously, shows that while Britain's city mice have a big choice of network operators and service providers, our country mice often have just one choice - Hobson's. By Martyn Warwick.
The latest figures from Kantar Worldpanel Com Tech (a name that doesn't exactly roll easily off the tongue) show that 43.8 per cent of the UK's mobile phone subscriber base now own smartphones - and Google's increasingly popular Android operating system powers 49.9 per cent of them.
Second and third are Blackberry with 22.5 per cent and Apple with 18.5 per cent. However, Kantar compiled its figures from data obtained in the three months ending on October 2, 2011 so the effects of the launch of Apple's iPhone 4S are not apparent and may well have a big impact on next quarter's figures.
Among the handset manufacturers hitching their satrs to the Android OS bandwagon, HTC tops the league with 44.8 per cent of smartphone sales but Samsung of Korea is snapping at the Taiwanese company's heels with more than 30 per cent take-up..
Meanwhile, at the other end of the scale, Sony Ericsson's share of the smartphone market has fallen from the just over 20 per cent reported for the same period last year to just 8.5 per cent this. With Sony now having bought Ericsson's out of the joint venture it is to be hoped that things improve, and improve quickly.
Another interesting part of the Kantar report is that while Android aficionados love the OS, they don't have much loyalty to a particular device manufacturer - so the likes of HTC and Samsung seem likely to be locked in an endless spiral of tough competition to retain customers.
So, things are looking pretty rosy for the UK's urban smartphone users. However, the same can't be said for those living in rural communities.
A new report from Ofcom, the UK's uber-regulator of telecoms and the media, shows that country dwellers are either limited in the "choice" to just one 3G provider, whilst in far too many cases, there is still no 3G service at all. Incredibly, given the size of the country and the plethora of operators, in late 2011 some 27 per cent of Britsstill cannot receive any form of 3G service.
Ofcom has a legal requirement to produce an "Infrastructure Report" to the UK government every three years. It shows all broadband, mobile telephone, fixed line digital radio and TV coverage in Great Britain.
Under the terms of their licenses, UK mobile network operators must provide coverage to 80 per cent of UK inhabitants - most of whom live in towns and cities. Thus while there is spirited competition in the country's conurbations there is very, very much less in rural areas.
As the Ofcom report says, the new data shows “considerably better household coverage compared with geographic coverage, because mobile providers tend to prioritise investment in network infrastructure where the maximum number of consumers and businesses can be served”.
In other words, if you live in the British countryside enjoy the views and peace and quiet but don't expect to be part of the e-economy any time soon.
Photo by Derek Voller, via Wikimedia Commons
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