Young European Consumers Want the PC Web Experience on Their Phones

CCS Insight survey shows Facebook, Twitter, StudiVZ and Tuenti dominate mobile Internet usage, but network operators fail to maximise opportunities.

February 9th, 2010 — A survey published today by CCS Insight reveals that while a significant proportion of young Europeans now access the Internet from their mobile phones on a frequent, often daily, basis, most of them ignore the services offered by mobile phone companies in favour of more-familiar names from the Web. While the research suggests ways for network operators and phone-makers to maximise uptake of the mobile Internet, results indicate many of these opportunities are being overlooked.

Key findings of the survey include:

  • Up to a quarter of young people now access the mobile Internet every day
  • Mobile operator portals and services such as Nokia’s Ovi are losing out to familiar Web brands like Facebook, Amazon and Twitter
  • The success of local-language networking sites shows there is life beyond Facebook. Around half of mobile social network users in Germany access StudiVZ on their mobile phone; 62 percent in Spain access Tuenti
  • About two-thirds of Italian and Spanish women under 36 have never accessed the Internet on their mobile phones, partly because mobile operators are failing to deliver services that appeal to this untapped market
  • Increasing use of phones to access social networks coupled with demand for mobile gaming creates an opportunity for a new mobile social gaming phenomenon
  • As multiple e-book readers descend on Europe, mobile phones still have a role as the preferred way to access e-publications


Martin Garner, Director of Mobile Internet at CCS Insight and one of the report’s authors, said: “Our survey reveals the true picture of mobile Internet usage among young consumers in Europe’s top five markets. It shows that as smartphones become more affordable, people are using them to access the sites they know and love on their PCs. Mobile network operators and handset manufacturers are losing the battle to define the mobile Internet experience, despite the huge sums they’re pouring into sites that compete with the familiar Web names.” On the eve of the industry’s biggest gathering in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress, CCS Insight’s report highlights some key lessons still to be learned.

While the survey shows that over 60 percent of mobile Internet users in Europe’s five largest markets prefer to ignore specifically tailored portals from mobile operators, it does reveal that mobile phones have a role to play in other current consumer trends. For example, in Italy, over 40 percent of young people who expressed an interest in e-newspapers said they would only read them on their phone. This finding and data from other countries in the survey suggest that despite excitement around the launch of several e-book readers, the mobile phone is still the device of choice for many consumers accessing multimedia content.

The report also found that although many young people are reluctant to pay for music or video downloads on mobile phones, 39 percent do pay for mobile games, and a further 19 percent of respondents would be willing to. Combined with the popularity of social networking sites for mobile Internet users, this suggests a big opportunity to drive mobile Internet traffic through popular social gaming applications.

In contrast to the general reluctance to access networks’ mobile Internet portals, over half of all mobile Internet users surveyed said they access Facebook on their phone and 10 percent access Twitter. The most popular mobile Internet application is e-mail with 61 percent of young mobile Internet users in Europe’s top five markets accessing e-mail on the move.

Paolo Pescatore, Director of Operator Strategy at CCS Insight and co-author of the report, commented: “Despite the warnings for the mobile industry, the opportunities are there. Network operators, phone-makers and media companies need to focus less on what they want to sell and more on what consumers want to access on their mobile phones. The alternative will be to sit back and watch the large Web brands continue to define the future of the mobile Internet.”

The CCS Insight report, Mobile Internet Usage in Europe, 2009 by Martin Garner and Paolo Pescatore, is available for purchase here.

Notes to Editors


CCS Insight

CCS Insight is a top mobile industry analyst firm. The company provides a blend of timely and authoritative market information, analysis and intelligence for companies around the world who are focused on the wireless and mobile sector.

CCS Insight has a global team of expert analysts, with offices in the US and Europe. It has earned a reputation for unparalleled knowledge and understanding of the communications market, and an ability to synthesise information and predict market movements and developments. For more information, visit

Mobile Internet Usage in Europe, 2009

The survey was conducted among a sample of 5,000 mobile phone owners aged 16 to 35 in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. The field work was completed in December 2009.

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