eMarketer estimates that there were more than 15 million UK smartphone users at the end of 2011, and forecasts a total of 19.2 million by the end of 2012. Growth rates for smartphone users will remain around 20% through the forecast period, resulting in 41.9 million total users by 2016.
In addition, smartphone users, as a percent of mobile phone users, will more than double from 36.8% in 2012 to 78% in 2016, and account for nearly half of the total population by 2014.
Smartphone usage also trickles down to tablet ownership. According to a two-year survey by comScore conducted in January of 2011 and 2012, the percent of smartphone users who owned a tablet more than doubled from 5.3% in 2011 to 12.7% in 2012.
Combining comScore’s data with eMarketer’s smartphone user forecast suggests there will be approximately 2.4 million UK tablet users in 2012.
Mobile devices played an important part in how consumers around the world watched the Olympics, especially in the host country. A March 2012 Deloitte study on viewership plans of consumers in the UK found that 15% intended to watch at least part of the games on a computer, laptop or tablet, while only 12% intended to watch on a mobile phone.
Mobile video, especially in an Olympic year, is important due to the BBC’s planned “four-screen” strategy (including smartphones, tablets, PCs and TVs) for covering the games. As the sole provider of live coverage of the games in the UK, the BBC’s strategy will provide a boost to mobile ad spending in the country. eMarketer forecasts that mobile ad spending in the UK will increase 70% to $558.1 million in 2012.