Over the last few months, The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) have been releasing their “Communications 2011-2012” series of research reports, looking at the many different ways we Australians use the Internet. The third and final report of the series was released recently, and looks at the take-up and use of smartphones and tablets in Australia.

The report looks in-depth at the different ways Australians use their smartphones, as well as the various infrastructure developments over the past 12 months.

While a lot of what the report tells us isn’t exactly breaking news (smartphone ownership has risen dramatically in the past 12 months, and looks set to continue), some of the individual facts are quite fascinating:

  • We like our phones
    92% of Australians over the age of 18 use a mobile phone, with 48% listing it as their most-used communications device
  • The smartphone is now the norm
    Smartphone ownership went from 25% of the adult population in 2011 to 49% in 2012. This works out to approximately 8.7 million new smartphone users.
  • Nearly 50% of the population go online with their phones
    9.2 million Australians went online using their mobile phone in the 6 months to May 2012, while 4.4 million used a tablet device.
  • Android dominates smartphones
    Android has a 58% share of the mobile phone market, compared to Apple’s 36%.
  • Apple dominates tablets
    On the tablet side of things, Apple dominated with a 57% market share, compared to Android’s 41%. While it’s important to note that these figures are for the third quarter of 2012 (the Nexus 7 had only just been released and the Nexus 10 had not even been announced), there’s no reason to believe these devices would seriously tip the balance.
  • Nearly 20% of Australians downloaded at least one app
    4.45 million Australians over the age of 18 downloaded an app to their smartphone in June 2012, compared to 2.41 million in June 2011. This is an increase of 85%.

There’s a lot of data there, but the main points to take out of it are that smartphone ownership is increasing significantly, and Android has the major share of the market. However, this increase in mobile internet usage isn’t all good news for carriers.

Both Telstra and Optus have reported a decrease in the average revenue per user (ARPU), which is affecting their profitability. Optus reported that their ARPU dropped by $2 to $45 in 2011-2012, while Telstra’s dropped by $2.44.  The main cause of this seems to be a reduction in the number of phone calls being made, as more and more users opt for data-based forms of communication like VOIP services and social media.

It remains to be seen how the carriers will react to this decline in profitability. The most obvious and least desirable outcome seems to be that they will find a way to charge more for data, or offer less in their plans – a trend that we’ve seen in updates carriers have made their offerings in the last 12 months.

Are these stats surprising to you? How do you think the Australian smartphone and tablet market will change in the coming years?

Source: ACMA Communications report 2011–12.
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    The whole charging more for data idea… Data already seems pretty extensive here compared to some other counties. Expensive data really doesn’t fit well with Google’s ideals of cloud storage use. Hopefully free WiFi hotspots continue to increase….


    I prefer connecting via smart phone and tablet as my connection is faster than what passes for ADSL here.

    Andrew Mosey

    Interesting that smartphone penetration is so high.

    As an aside, you should check out for these sort of posts

    Here’s one we put together: