The adoption of mobile phones in Europe has typically led most regions, with many countries over 100% penetrated (based on multiple connected devices per user) and monthly usage for voice and message well over that of landline devices. But while North America has moved forward with almost ubiquitous 4G LTE systems, 3G still dominates in most European countries. Though 3G speeds were an improvement to 2G, there is quite a difference between in user performance when roaming the Web, sending a picture message and almost any wireless data function. While smartphones are ubiquitous, data usage is behind many countries in Asia and in North America in particular. This can be because of the cost, which is now being regulated, but also because of performance issues.

After having spent a month traveling to various cities in Northern, Eastern and Southern Europe in November promoting new enterprise mobile capabilities, there are a few observations I came away with:

  1. Like other countries, the Apple iPhone is the dominant device in most areas. Using informal polls, typically over 50% of business users responded they were using an iPhone. Android had a higher adoption rate in enterprises than in NA and came second. Surprisingly, BlackBerry still had a pretty dominant position, and was usually third, but sometimes second (especially in Southern Europe) in some countries visited. Windows-based devices, had a greater presence than in North America, was easily fourth, though.
  2. Users in Europe have a smaller number of mobile apps downloaded. While Apple and Android users in North America average around 40 downloaded apps (which varies by age), many users I talked with had half that. Of course, the number of apps (besides messaging, contacts, calendar and browser) used regularly, meaning at least once a week, where just about 5, the same as in other areas. These were typically FaceBook, Twitter , filesharing and games.
  3. There was little support and usage of enterprise-focused apps, which is pretty standard globally. ISV apps like SalesForce seemed to dominate  over those from SAP and Oracle, but generally, proprietary enterprise developed apps are not common yet.
  4. Containerized or sandboxing enterprise data was not common also. In North America, about 20% of companies are using technologies or rules to contain enterprise data, especially in wireless email. Generally fewer than 10% of the attendees I talked to used any technology or policy for managing and containerizing corporate email.

While 15 years ago, Europeans were ahead on adoption and usage of mobile devices, much of the developed world has caught up, and surpassed Europe for wireless data usage. As Europe further invests in 4G LTE, this will change, but for now, voice services and text messaging still remain the dominant uses.