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Where consumer electronics are concerned, France is shifting decisively toward mobile. A March 2015 report from Mobile Marketing Association France (MMA France) drew on data from several research firms to show how broadly France’s population now engages with mobile technology.
Advanced mobile device penetration is still rising steadily. Annual sales of smartphones in France neared 18.2 million last year, judging by recent data from GfK, while retail tablet sales exceeded 6.9 million. Taken together, sales in these two categories were nearly six times higher than unit sales of portable PCs.
Smartphones also recorded another milestone in late 2014: For the first time, more than three-quarters (76%) of all mobile phones sold in France during October were advanced handsets, GfK calculated, not feature phones.
While smartphones posted much higher penetration, many residents of France now have access to a tablet as well. According to comScore, nearly 13.3 million people ages 13 and older in France used a tablet at the end of October 2014—a gain of more than 700,000 compared with June. eMarketer estimates that over 25 million people of all ages in the country will use a tablet at least once per month this year.
Apple doesn’t rule France’s tablet landscape to the extent seen in the UK or Germany: Just one-third of tablets in the country ran iOS in Q3 2014, while 52% were running Google’s Android. But Apple was expected to gain share later, following the launch of its newest iPad, the Air 2, to the French public in mid-October.
France’s tablet users, like those in all advanced markets, were most likely to use such devices at home; 92% of those polled by Médiamétrie were home users, while 25% looked at a tablet while traveling or commuting. Only 9% said they used their tablet at work, and just 3% had used one at their school or university—understandably, given the relatively high cost of tablets and the potential for theft or damage in a school or workplace.
With tablet usage largely restricted to home and travel environments, many consumers turned to the device for catch-up TV and video, music streaming and radio listening. But checking news sources and other press publications online was the top activity overall, mentioned by 50.8% of tablet owners, Médiamétrie reported. In addition, 42.3% of respondents said they consulted recipes. These results suggest that tablets are becoming a go-to reference for a range of practical information, as well as entertainment content.
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