Where would we be without our smartphones? It’s a rhetorical question to which cynics might have some choice answers, but the truth is phones have become both ubiquitous and integral to our lives. Survey data from statista shows that between 2015 and 2020, the number of smartphones in use in Poland doubled from 11 million to 22 million. Today, the figure is estimated at almost 26 million, or 85 percent of the adult population.
To put that in context, it’s roughly the same as the percentage of adults who own or drive a car. But perhaps the most interesting question is what we use our phones for. A generation ago, that would have seemed a foolish thing to ask, but today, placing voice calls is well down the list.
10-20 years ago, texting was the new form of communication. Today, SMS is still used, but is in decline. The number of SMS messages sent in Poland dropped from 53 billion in 2012 to 45 billion in 2019. Today, free web-based messaging apps are the most commonly used smartphone apps, with WhatsApp in top spot. FaceBook Messenger and Snapchat are not far behind, while Skype and Zoom have seen dramatic spikes in use over the past two years.
Almost 60 percent of Polish adults have a Facebook account. This has risen dramatically from 40 percent in 2019, with more older adults embracing social media in 2020 to keep in touch with loved ones when face to face interaction became difficult. This figure was also boosted by the closure of NK.pl last year. More than two thirds of Polish Facebook users predominantly access their social media accounts via mobile devices.
The average smartphone has approximately 80 apps installed upon it. Statistics from Google Play show games to be by far the most popular category of apps in terms of downloads. Anyone who thinks only kids play games is still living in the 20th century. Gaming represents one of the most important leisure industries of our age, and developers are focusing more and more on older gamers who might enjoy playing mobile casinos or perhaps challenging themselves with the sort of crosswords and Sudoku puzzles that are traditionally found in newspapers.
From routine grocery shopping to clothes and big ticket items, ecommerce has grown exponentially in recent years, and once again, the vast majority of sales are by mobile app. The biggest player in the Polish market is allegro.pl. In a recent survey, an incredible 80 percent of online shoppers in Poland identified it as their favourite online brand. A big part of its appeal is that it serves as a one stop shop, stocking everything from washing up liquid to home electronics to fashion.
Even the most basic phone is equipped with a camera that can take pictures of acceptable quality. The effect on our lives has been profound, and we can capture and share moments from our lives in a way that would have been inconceivable in the days of cameras with film.