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Mobile Devices Boost Online Engagement in Germany

Sharp rises in smartphone and tablet ownership encourage more internet use

Germany's mobile revolution is gathering pace. More than 25 million residents access the internet every day with a mobile device, according to a study commissioned by the mobile division of the Bundesverband Digitale Wirtschaft (BVDW), in cooperation with Google and TNS Infratest.

PCs—including desktops, laptops and netbooks—remained the most commonly used devices for going online; as in Q1 2013, 77% of a representative sample of the population ages 16 and older used a PC to access the web.

But the percentage using smartphones and tablets had climbed steeply in recent years. Half of all respondents had a smartphone in early 2014, and one in five had a tablet—up from 40% and 15%, respectively, a year earlier.

In fact, those polled in Q1 2014 had, on average, 2.4 web-enabled devices. Fully 14% had a tablet and a smartphone as well as a PC.

A large majority (87%) of smartphone users said they enjoyed accessing the web with their phones. This opinion was more widespread among women (91%) than among men (82%). But men were more likely to say that owning a smartphone led them to spend more time online—60%, compared with 48% of women. Among students of both genders, 83% said they went online more than they had earlier, thanks to their smartphones.

In addition, owners of mobile phones that weren't web-enabled seemed to be less engaged with their phones than smartphone owners.

It's no surprise that smartphones are contributing to much higher internet usage in Germany. Research by Goldmedia last year found that most of the country's smartphone users were quite satisfied with their handsets. In most cases, fewer than 10% of respondents said they were not happy with their phones; dissatisfaction was greatest among users of BlackBerry and Nokia devices.

eMarketer estimates that Germany's smartphone population will reach 35.4 million this year—a gain of more than 26% compared with 2013. By year-end, we expect over half of all mobile phone users in the country to have a smartphone.

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