Europeans Open to Touchscreen Phones

Countdown to Apple's iPhone, and Europeans say they're open to trying the tactile interface screens on their handsets

With two weeks to go until the US launch of Apple's much-anticipated iPhone, research suggests consumers are warming to the idea of touchscreen handsets.

In a survey of 2,000 European mobile users conducted by research company Canalys, 23 per cent of respondents said they would like a touchscreen interface - as the iPhone will have - on their phone if it gave them a large display, provided it didn't increase the overall size of the device.

A further 10 per cent said they would be prepared to carry a larger phone if it came with a touchscreen or a good keyboard.

But not all mobile users are keen to get overly tactile with their mobile: 28 per cent of respondents said they only want a traditional numeric keypad. And size does matter for 24 per cent - whose priority is having a small phone, regardless of interface.

Touchscreen tech was up to 50 per cent more appealing to mobile users who already had a strong interest in mobile TV, mobile email or GPS services, according to the research - although these users were still keen to keep their handsets as small as possible.

According to Canalys, bigger touchscreen displays offered by phones such as the iPhone could give a boost to mobile services including downloadable games and video, something mobile operators are keen to push. Currently such services are not massively popular with mobile users: less than 10 per cent of survey respondents were paying for and downloading ringtones, pictures, games, videos or music regularly, said Canalys.

The Apple iPhone, due to launch in the US on 29 June, has a 3.5-inch touchscreen and handset dimensions of 11.5cm x 6.1cm x 1.2cm.

Pete Cunningham, Canalys senior analyst, said that while the user interface is "only part of the solution to expanding the market, it is a critical part". He said in a statement: "You need compelling services and content, and transparent and fair pricing. But if the interface gets in the way people will soon lose interest or choose other platforms to satisfy their needs."

The most popular feature of those surveyed was the built-in camera - 70 per cent of cameraphone owners used the camera regularly, according to the research.

Canalys surveyed 2,000 employed, adult mobile phone users in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.