Google study finds affluent Middle East countries among most enthusiastic smartphone users

Google’s annual Mobile Planet smartphone study has revealed the United Arab Emirates has some of the highest smartphone penetration in the world, with 62 percent of mobile phone users in the country reporting that they own smartphones.

The study, which was conducted with Ipsos MediaCT, surveyed mobile phone users in 26 countries around the world. Smartphone penetration was also extremely high in Saudi Arabia, where 60 percent of mobile phone users had smartphones. By comparison, smartphone penetration in the U.S. was 44 percent according to the study.

Smartphone users in affluent Middle Eastern countries like Egypt and the United Arab Emirates were also more likely than Americans to make mobile purchases.  According to the study 41 percent of smartphone users in Egypt and 39 percent of smartphone users in UAE had made a purchase on their smartphones, compared to 35 percent of Americans.

Egyptian smartphone users were also more frequent mobile purchasers than consumers in Western countries. 80 percent of Egyptian smartphone owners reported making mobile purchases at least once a month, compared to 62 percent of American shoppers and 56 percent of smartphone users in the U.K.

Middle Eastern smartphone owners were also more open to mobile advertising. Google’s study found more than 90 percent of smartphone users in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia noticed mobile advertising while accessing the internet using their smartphone’s browser.

Google found smartphone users in affluent Middle Eastern countries were also more likely to go online with their smartphones multiple times a day, had more apps on their phones, and looked up local information more often than users in other emerging smartphone markets like China and Brazil.

Overall, the study shows that even though China is frequently pegged as the emerging smartphone market with the biggest potential, developers should also consider the Middle East and its young, affluent consumers in their international plans.