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Smartphones, data volume and, er, text messaging all up according to Ofcom

Here in the UK it’s no secret that we’ve gone bananas over smartphones. Now we can prove it with lovely, lovely statistics from Ofcom, which has found that twice as many people now own and use smartphones than two years ago, equating to 26.5% of the British population. That’s as many people owning smartphones as own a cat in the UK.

Unsurprisingly, this means that data consumption has also increased, shooting up by 240% in 2009. No doubt 2010’s figures will be even more insane in this arena.

What’s interesting, though, is that despite the popularity of handset based email and instant messaging services like BlackBerry Messenger and Windows Live Messenger on many handsets, SMS text messaging is also up. We’re sending over 100,000,000,000 – that’s one hundred billion to you and me – which works out at roughly 1700 messages sent by every person in the UK in the space of a year.

Personally, I find this almost impossible to imagine. I send about 25 messages a month but according to this data I should be sending more like 150. Probably there’s some popular teenager or kitten somewhere taking up the rest of my quota.

According to the survey of 1,138 UK participants aged 16 and above, the average person is also cramming 8h48m of media-time into just over 7 hours of the day – not by magic, but by multitasking. So when you’re checking Twitter on your phone while watching a video on your iPad while watching the news on the TV, you’re racking up them media hours.

The most worrying finding, in my opinion, is that we spend almost half of our waking hours watching TV and using a mobile phone. Presumably a sizeable chunk of the remaining 55% of time is spent at work and doing chores. So we’re spending pretty much all our free time in front of screens large and small. Gosh. Take a break, will you? Take your cat for a walk, join a football team, do some woodworking – just do something else! Or you’ll get square eyes.

Another finding from the ‘well, duh’ section of the report is that 24-month contracts are on the rise – in the second quarter of 2010, 63% of new mobile contracts were for two years, compared to 3% in W2 2008. Ofcom reckons that’s a good thing, making smartphones more affordable for the consumer. That’s as may be, but it’s certainly frustrating for those of us who want to upgrade our handsets more regularly as the technology moves at lightning speed.

[Image via JoshSemans on Flickr]


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