Smartphones and tablets a growing hit among Singaporeans

More Singaporeans are snapping up smartphones and tablets to connect with friends on the move.

Seventy-eight per cent of people in the Republic now have one smartphone, up from 74 per cent last year. And two in five own a tablet computer, compared with one in three a year ago.

The figures were released yesterday by Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson at a media briefing.

In the first quarter of this year, the company's ConsumerLab research unit polled 38,000 Internet users aged 16 to 60 in 43 markets, including 500 from Singapore. While the Republic was world No. 1 in smartphone penetration last year, it fell to fourth position this time around, behind Hong Kong and Norway.

South Korea topped the rankings with a smartphone penetration rate of 91 per cent.

Mr Afrizal Abdul Rahim, Ericsson ConsumerLab's head in Southeast Asia and Oceania, attributed Singapore's drop in the rankings to lower handset prices and promotions offered by telcos in other markets.

This year, Android took over the pole position as the preferred mobile operating system in Singapore. Its penetration rate is 48 per cent, up from 29 per cent last year. "Consumers could have been waiting for new Apple devices, but Android handset makers were more aggressive last year," said Mr Afrizal.

The trend mirrors the growing popularity of Android devices worldwide. They accounted for 75 per cent of the global smartphone market in the first quarter, according to technology research firm IDC.

Mr Afrizal said Singaporeans are also using smartphones more often to communicate with friends via social networking.

Mr Jonathan Soh, 36, frequently uses his iPhone to share holiday photos. The bank associate said: "I'm on Facebook more often than before as more of my friends have been using the same app to share updates and photos in the past year."