Australians turn away from contracts for new phones: Study

A new study has found that Australians are beginning to turn away from signing lengthy contracts with mobile telcos in order to get a new phone.

Australians are moving away from signing up for lengthy mobile contracts in order to get a new phone, according to research released by technology analyst firm Telsyte.

The report, with research sourced from the financial reports of telcos and device companies, interviews with the industry, and an online survey with 1,018 respondents, found that 43 percent of Australians over the age of 16 received their smartphone as part of a contract with a mobile telco, compared to 57 percent in 2012.

The research found that 30 percent of Australians were buying their phone outright. The remaining 27 percent obtained their smartphone either through their work, as a gift, or as a hand-me-down.

It comes as Australia's telecommunications companies have moved to reduce the number of handset subsidies on offer, and have all cut the data amounts on their basic plans, while offering bonus data for users signing up during certain times of the year.

The remaining handset subsidies have improved the position of Android in Australia, according to the report. Of the 15 million smartphone users in Australia at the end of 2013, Android leads the way, with slightly over 50 percent of the market, followed by Apple, at 42 percent, with Windows, BlackBerry, and Symbian collectively accounting for 8 percent.

Those with iPhones or Android devices intend on sticking with that platform, according to the study, with 73 percent of iPhone users intending to stay with the iPhone, and 56 percent of Android users intending to stick with Android.

Kantar's most recent figures point to Apple having 35 percent of phone market sales in Australia for the three months ending November 2013.

Telsyte senior analyst Alvin Lee said he predicts that Android will remain on top in Australia until at least 2018, but the "other" brands besides iOS and Android will double their market share to 16 percent by 2018.

Lee said that Windows would be the biggest challenger, and it would likely lead to Google trying to differentiate itself even further.

"It's possible that Google will experiment with Chrome-based smartphones as an alternative to Android at some point," Lee said in a statement.

Windows sales share in Australia fell from 9.3 percent in the third quarter of 2013 to 6.9 percent at the end of November 2013.