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December 14, 2012

UK leads the way on adoption of new technology

British consumers are glued to the box and spend hours browsing, posting, shopping and tweeting on smartphones, tablets and laptops. That's the picture emerging from Ofcom's seventh International Communications Market Report, which looks at the use of technology across 17 major countries.

The UK is way ahead of countries such as Japan and the USA for catching up with TV online and using new technology such as smart TVs and digital video recorders (DVRs).

The Ofcom report also shows that internet shopping is now more popular in the UK than in any other major country, and this is increasingly driven by the use of mobile devices.

In fact, UK consumers spend more online than any other country surveyed. In 2011, the UK per-head spending on e-commerce was £1,083. Australia spent £842 and Sweden was third, spending £747.

The findings also show that:

  • the average UK viewer watches over four hours of TV a day
  • 58% of UK consumers have smartphones
  • 19% of UK consumers have a tablet computer
  • 23.1% of UK smartphone users use their device to visit retail websites

James Thickett, Ofcom's director of research, said: "Our research reveals that the UK leads the way in using the internet on the move. Increasingly, it's mobile devices like smartphones and tablets that are driving this growing demand for data — and in the UK it seems to be social networking sites that are behind this in particular."

Digital divide grows

However, a new survey by consumer researchers Intersperience shows that there are three distinct types of gadget user in the UK. So-called "device junkies" (29%) use seven or more devices at home. The majority of people (53%) have between four and six devices. And those that lag behind, with three devices or less, account for 18% of respondents.

"We are seeing a new phase in the digital divide," said Intersperience's CEO Paul Hudson. "The implications are potentially far-reaching. On the one hand, businesses have to invest heavily in technology to support the device junkies, whilst simultaneously continuing to invest in supporting the rest of the population who may not be adapting as quickly."