Pew Claims Smartphone Tipping Point Passed

by , Mar 1, 2012, 11:02 AM
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Smartphone-BlackberryMore American adults now own smartphones than feature phones, according to Pew Internet & American Life Project. While 46% of adults now have a smartphone, only 41% say they own some other kind of phone.

These stats skew a bit higher than some competing surveys, such as a recent comScore report that pegged smartphone ownership at about 43% and a Yankee Group report that also showed feature phone ownership at 51% versus smartphone ownerships at 43%. Nielsen recently said 48% of American mobile customers now have smartphones. Pew says that since it focuses on respondents 18 and older, its overall numbers may be on the higher end when it comes to advanced devices because other surveys tend to capture teens.

Pew, which bases its research on interviews and polls of over 2,200 adults, compares its sample to a May 2011 survey and sees very rapid growth in smartphone adoption. Just last year, they saw the split at 35% smartphone and 48% feature phone. Not only have a substantial number of people upgraded, according to these stats, but overall cell phone penetration has edged up. In May 2011, Pew found that 17% still said they had no cell phone of any kind. For February 2012, that number has declined to 12%.

While Android seems to dominate handsets in many other surveys, Pew said that 20% of its respondents described their phones as Android-based (up from 15% in May) and almost as many -- 19% -- called their phones iPhones (up from 10%). BlackBerry continues to lose share, down to 6% from 10%.  

Perhaps most revealing about Pew’s metrics is the broad scope of the smartphone growth demographically. Clearly moving beyond the early-adopter slice, smartphones are showing double-digit gains in all age groups except the 55+ segments, where we still see only 31% of 55- to-64-year-olds and 13% of 65+ groups with advanced devices. When it comes to income level, the high end of $75,000 and above still shows the deepest penetration of smartphones, with 68%, but even households with $30,000 and up are now in the 46% smartphone penetration range. Parsed along ethnic lines, the White/non-Hispanic segment is showing the greatest growth (+15 points to 45%), largely because Black and Hispanic segment have always been the earliest smartphone adopters, and 49% in both demos now own advanced devices.

For marketers, the Pew metrics suggest they have not only a critical mass to target with mobile campaigns, but a reliably broad base from which to target.  

The full report is available at the Pew site

1 comment on "Pew Claims Smartphone Tipping Point Passed ".

  1. Adam Hartung from spark partners
    commented on: March 1, 2012 at 1:39 p.m.
    So what will happen to perpetual laggard Microsoft? With Windows 8 barely in preview mode - and likely not available until end of year or even 2013 how can MSFT, Nokia and others hope to compete? Forbes mag says Microsoft took a crazy bet to wait and then invest so heavily on Windows 8 - and will likely come out very badly http://onforb.es/zEbLfz

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