The European mobile elite in 2012

Fifty percent of European business executives claim to have an iPad in the home in 2012, up from 19% in 2011, according to CNBC's Mobile Elite 2012 survey.

Research looks at how European executives use their mobile devices
Research looks at how European executives use their mobile devices


In August 2012, CNBC commissioned its Mobile Elite 2012 survey.  This is the third in a series of surveys among over 800 European executives covering their use of tablets and mobile devices, social media and applications.

The survey focuses on the use of these platforms in a business context and the perceived image and value of social media in marketing and business planning.

The 2012 findings reveal some fascinating trends on the consumption of media, and how this exclusive audience access information on the move.

Europe’s mobile elite

The 2012 findings reveal that personal ownership of mobile devices among Europe’s affluent increased dramatically this year.

iPhone ownership grew steadily between 2010 (19%) and 2011 (21%), but doubled in 2012 to 41% (and this was before the launch of iPhone 5). Similarly, Android ownership grew from 8% in 2010 to 14% in 2011, doubling in 2012 to 28%.

Blackberry ownership on the other hand, has increased marginally over the last three years from 18% in 2010 to 20% in 2011, and 23% in 2012.

The year of the tablet

This year has seen huge increases in tablet sales across Europe and it’s not surprising that the iPad registered the biggest gains in ownership among Europe’s elite, increasing from 15% in 2011 to 42% in 2012. Android tablet ownership has also trebled in the last 12 months, growing from 5% last year to 17% in 2012.

Mobile devices owned (Top 4)

Source: The Mobile Elite 2012, Base: All respondents

Moving beyond ‘personal’ ownership, 50% of all executives claim to have an iPad in the home in 2012, increasing from 19% in 2011. In addition, seven in ten either own, or intend to buy an iPad in the next 12 months.

iPad ownership/usage trends

Source: The Mobile Elite 2012, Base: All respondents

Of all those owning an iPad in the home, 83% use it themselves (up from 71% in 2011) and the proportion who share the device with their partner has increased from 37% last year to 50% in 2012.

Some parents are clearly throwing down some ground rules to ‘take back’ their iPad, as the proportion sharing the device with their children has dropped from 45% in 2011 to 30% in 2012. This of course could imply that more children now have their own iPads.

The iPad lends itself perfectly to the hectic multi-tasking lifestyle of the busy European executive, and the flexibility to be able to do other things at the same time as using the device is one of its key strengths.

The results show that 90% of iPad users claim to be doing something else at the same time as using their tablet with 75% watching TV, 58% using another mobile device, 51% reading a newspaper or magazine, 49% in conversation with friends or family, and 45% preparing meals at home.

Tablets and mobile devices are generally used at different times, with a higher proportion of tablet owners using their devices in the evening and at weekends, while mobile devices are more likely to be used in the morning and at lunchtime during the week.

Whilst the iPad is the perfect coffee table accessory in the home, it has also carved out a niche in the office. Six in ten of Europe’s elite agree that the iPad is a useful business tool (increasing from 4 in ten in 2011).

Furthermore, two thirds of owners (65%) claim to take it with them while travelling on business. Among users, accessing business/financial information is the top scoring feature used for the iPad (89%), followed by email and news updates (both 81%).

The size of the screen on the iPad and other tablets creates a more engaging experience for the user compared to smaller mobile devices. Consequently, the iPad achieves the highest score for nine out of eleven features measured on the survey. The iPhone takes number one position for GPS/mapping services, and listening to music.

Downloading apps is the number one scoring feature for iPhone users (81%) followed by financial/business information (79%) and email (71%). Similarly, downloading apps is highest among android device users (78%), followed by email (74%) and GPS and mapping services (71%).

The results indicate that Blackberry is mainly used for email (74%) and financial/business information (58%) with scores for other features much lower.

Blackberry continues to struggle in 2012 as most European executives (56%) expect the level of web features accessed via this device to decrease in the next 12 months. All other mobile and tablet devices measured likely decreases of less than 5%.

With the extensive number of apps now available, it’s not surprising that the average number of apps downloaded by Europe’s elite has grown from 15 in 2010, to 20 in 2011 and 35 in 2012.

The variety of apps downloaded continues to increase across the board with business/finance news app downloads by far the most popular (86%), followed by newspaper/magazine apps (72%), news updates and weather (71%) and social media apps (58% - increasing from 35% in 2011).

While the number and variety of web features used has increased across mobile and tablet devices, the continued decline in accessing traditional news websites via mobile devices could be explained by the increase in financial/news application downloads across all mobile devices in the last three years.

Europe’s networked elite

As the number of social networks continues to grow, it’s not surprising that membership of sites continues to increase among Europe’s elite with 87% claiming to be a member of at least one network in 2012 compared to 74% in 2011 and 60% in 2010.

Among Europe’s elite, Facebook continues to be the most widely used site in Europe, with 60% claiming to have a Facebook account increasing from 57% in 2011 and 49% in 2010). LinkedIn membership has increased from 31% in 2010 to 41% in 2011 and 45% this year, while Twitter increased from 18% in 2010, to 34% in 2011 and 38% in 2012.

Newly measured Google+ registered 34% membership this year. Among users of the any of the big three, 26% are connected to all three sites, increasing from 18% in 2011.

Membership of social networking sites (Top 3)

Source: The Mobile Elite 2012, Base: All respondents

This year, access to social networking sites in the home has remained well above 90% among users whilst sites accessed on the move (via mobile devices) have increased consistently from 55% in 2010 to 61% in 2011 and 69% this year.

The perceived value of social media as a useful business tool over the last three years has fuelled the acceptability of social media in the work place, with 75% of users accessing sites at work v 32% in 2010 and 55% in 2011.

This has been a significant year of implementation for social media in business. Back in 2011, 61% of European executives felt that social networking would change the way we do business in the future, and this has been realised in 2012 with 69% agreeing that ‘it’s important for businesses to integrate social media into marketing and business plans’.

Over four in ten claim that their company has a social media strategy in place, and in the last 12 months, over a third (36%) of all European executives claim to have used social media to interact with clients and customers, three in ten have used social media to build brand presence among the social network community, 21% have used social media to increase company website traffic and a quarter have used it to help build corporate reputation.

Twitter’s use as a business and marketing tool continues to increase among European executives, with 80% of tweeters claiming that they use it to ‘follow the insights of senior business figures or investment strategists’, increasing from 31% in 2010, and 61% last year.

Perceptions of social networking sites

Source: The Mobile Elite 2012, Base: All members of each network

Each of the social networking sites deliver unique strengths, with Facebook scoring highest among users for ‘mainly use for leisure’ (73%), LinkedIn for ‘useful business tool’ (71%), ‘useful recruitment tool’ (56%), ‘respected brand’ (50%) and ‘willing to pay to be a member’ (18%). Twitter scores highest for ‘useful marketing tool’ (44%) and ‘trustworthy’ (38%).


The adoption of the latest mobile devices by Europe’s elite increased significantly in 2012 with iPhone and Android phone ownership doubling, and iPad ownership trebling year on year.

In the last twelve months, the iPad has established a real presence in the board room and business executives are using the device for a wide range of personal and business reasons. Six in ten European executives now consider the iPad to be a useful business tool with 65% of owners taking it with them when travelling on business.

The use of social media among European decision makers continues to thrive in 2012 with LinkedIn and Twitter showing the biggest increases in membership. It seems that 2011 was the year of realisation of social media in a business context, and 2012 is the year of ‘implementation’, as European executives using social media for a range of business and marketing activities.

Twitter’s use as a business and marketing tool continues to increase, with 80% of tweeters claiming that they use it to ‘follow the insights of senior business figures or investment strategists’, increasing from six in ten last year.



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