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Smartphones are reshaping communication globally


Google releases new study on mobile phone trends across the GCC region and world.

January 7, 2014 2:42 by

Smartphone penetration across the world is on a record rise, with sales surpassing desktop/laptop sales for the first time in history, according to new research on mobile phones by Google, which adds that more than 900 million mobile devices were sold in 2013, out of a total of 1.5 billion devices.

The gap between mobile devices and PC/laptop sales has been widening for years, with smartphones outselling desktops/laptops by more than double in 2012 and 2013, with projected rise in growth over the coming four years.

More than anywhere else on the globe, smartphones are reshaping the way people interact with each other across the GCC region. Its smartphone penetration is among the highest in the world (at 74 per cent and 73 per cent for UAE and Saudi Arabia respectively).

Users are turning to their phones for everyday actions, with 42 per cent of all searches conducted in the GCC region using smartphones – registering a 110 per cent increase between 2012 and 2013. In some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, mobile searches have exceeded those conducted on desktops/laptops, with 45 per cent of all searches in the kingdom conducted using mobile devices (versus 42 per cent on desktops/laptops).

Smartphone penetration is also changing the way users interact with video. GCC users watch more videos on their phones than the rest of the world, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE registering 50 per cent and 40 per cent growth in total watch time using mobile devices respectively (when compared with the global average of 25 per cent).

According to the search engine giant, the likely reason for smatphones’ increase in popularity in recent years is due to the fact that a phone acts as a personal concierge. Smartphones enable self-expression, discovery, socialising, preparation for upcoming activities, uncovering news and information via search, as well as seeking out services and products, all while on the go.

Smartphone usage is also more common for short activities due to its ‘mobile’ nature. GCC users are also notable for their choice of using Arabic as the main language in search queries for the majority of their online activities.

According to Google, the best group among GCC residents to highlight the growing importance of mobile in the region is travellers. Leisure and business travellers alike are becoming more dependent on their mobile devices for dreaming up, researching, booking, experiencing and sharing their journeys. Half of all leisure travellers in both Saudi Arabia (51 per cent) and the UAE (39 per cent) have planned their travels using mobiles.

In addition to aiding in planning their trips, users are increasingly dependent on their smartphones during travelling to use a number of activities, which include search, maps, translation services, social networking websites for photo/video sharing and more.

The next generation of mobile devices will provide a far more seamless experience for travellers on leveraging new technologies that can help them become more immersed in their experiences. Some challenges still remain in the way of increased smartphone adoption, which include a mistrust of financial information security on mobile devices, the lack of many websites optimised for a mobile-viewing experience, improper broadband internet infrastructure and short battery lives.

More and more business entities are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of accommodating smartphone users, as mobiles continue their unprecedented rise. This, combined with the constant strides in the fields of technology by both hardware and software manufacturers, paints a vivid picture of smartphones as a way of the future.

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