Israel Tops World Ranking of Smartphone Usage

Survey shows Israelis use their smartphones just about anywhere; rising number of Israelis apt to use smartphones during social gatherings.

A young woman was sitting on a bus this week and a man in his 40s walked toward her. Engrossed in his smartphone, he was desperate to sit down to take care of the urgent matter on his screen. When he sat down, the woman saw what was so important: He wanted to finish the level on Angry Birds. After a few seconds, she went back to her cellphone to continue her game of Dots.

That’s the way a bus ride looks these days; so does waiting in line or even walking down the street − an endless bumping of smartphones connected to people with hands.

A recent survey conducted by Google and Ipsos MediaCT shows the same trend. Carried out in the first quarter of the year, taking in 1,000 smartphone users ages 18 to 64 in dozens of countries, the survey found that 57 percent of Israelis have a smartphone − compared to 35 percent last year.

That figure makes Israel a world leader in smartphone saturation. In Germany, by comparison, the figure is 40 percent, in France, 42 percent and in Spain, hot on Israel’s heels, 55 percent have smartphones. The only country that overtakes Israel is Britain, where 62 percent of the population have smart phones.

Israel also leads in smartphone usage: According to the survey, 93 percent of Israeli smartphone owners use it to surf the Web, as opposed to 83 percent in Britain, France and the United States. Among Israeli owners, 48 percent use the communications tool to watch full length TV programs.

The survey also looked at the social habits of smartphone users, revealing a somewhat worrisome trend. In 2011, only 16 percent of Israelis felt comfortable using their smartphones at social gatherings, but by this year, the figure had vaulted to 50 percent.

Coffee in one hand, phone in the other

A similar rise was noted in the use of smartphones in coffee shops. In 2011, only 30 percent said they held their coffee in one hand and their phone in the other; in 2013, 54 percent did.

In fact, Israelis use their smartphones just about everywhere: at home (87 percent‏), at work (77 percent‏), and while riding to work or walking down the street ‏(72 percent for both‏). Half of those polled said they use their smartphone while watching TV, and after seeing a commercial, 53 percent looked up a product on their phone.

Smartphones are also being used to help shoppers make decisions − 64 percent said they use it while shopping for everything from the calculator to comparing prices to asking friends’ opinions on a potential purchase. In the United States, that figure was 58 percent and in Germany, 41 percent.

One area where Israel lags behind users in other countries is making purchases online with their smartphones. The Americans lead the world in that regard, with 46 percent reporting they do commercial transactions with their smartphones, compared to 39 percent in Britain and only 31 percent in Israel.