NZ lags in smartphone & tablet ownership, but will catch up - study

NZ in line with global trends, but behind Australia.

(BusinessDesk) - Nearly half of all New Zealanders with a mobile phone will be using a smartphone by the end of the year, according to research by global telecommunications technology and services company Ericsson.

Smartphones have already penetrated a third of the local cellphone market, and its finding suggest that will have risen to 45 percent by year's end, as New Zealanders follow the trends seen in other parts of the Asia-Pacific region.

The Ericsson figures compare New Zealand uptake of smartphones and tablets with Australia, Singapore and Malaysia, where penetration rates are ahead of world trends, with 51 percent of users currently carrying a smartphone and two-thirds expected to be doing so by the end of the year.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

New Zealand's rates are directly in line with global trends.

The same survey sees an even steeper uptake of tablets, although from a lower base, with some 7 percent of the New Zealand market owning a tablet device, such as an iPad, rising to 20 percent by year-end, in part driven by Christmas gift-giving trends.

Some 62 percent of New Zealand mobile and tablet device users are already using applications or 'apps' of some sort, with that rate predicted to rise to 69 percent by the end of the year.

When it comes to what smartphones are being used for, kiwis are in line with regional trends, but are less enthusiastic about receiving work emails on their phones, with only 23 percent capitulating to that urge, compared with 43 percent in the wider region.

Other areas where New Zealanders are proving slower to adopt smartphone possibilities are in using their phones as "mobile wallets" to make payments on the go, and in software that turns spoken words into text messages. Video calling is used by just 14 percent of New Zealanders, compared to a 28 percent average in the region.

The top 10 most popular types of app are, in order: communication (56 percent), gaming (52 percent), video and search (37 percent each), weather (34 percent), entertainment (28 percent), news (26 percent), pictures and photos (26 percent), travel (23 percent) and banking or e-payments (21 percent).

"These findings suggest that future growth will primarily be driven by mobile data and how operator's need to consider how the can best capitalize on this fast-growing segment," said Ericsson's regional strategic marketing general manager, Kursten Leins.

"Internet surfing, portability and PC-like functionality are key drivers for tablet purchases, whereas the key motivating factors for smartphone users are the need to upgrade their existing devices, to enable emailing/messaging and for using apps."

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