Never Say Never

A recent report from The Gallup Vault, by Lydia Saad, said that about a decade after mobile phones had gone mass market, half of U.S. adults told Gallup they had a "cellular phone" and half said they did not. Of those without a cellphone, almost half said they had no intention of ever getting one.

Americans' Cellphone Ownership and Intentions in 2000


Have cellphone

Will get one

Will never get one

% of U.S. adults






18 to 29




30 to 49




50 to 65








Source: Gallup, March 2000

Cellphone ownership varied significantly by age in 2000, with only about three in 10 seniors owning one, compared with about four in 10 adults younger than 30 and six in 10 middle-aged adults, says the report.

Likewise, says the report, seniors were the most likely to say they would never get one, with 50% forecasting this. Still, it wasn't just elders who couldn't see cellphones in their future. Roughly one in five adults in each of the younger age categories said the same, including 18% of 18- to 29-year-olds.

Fast forward to 2018, says the report, when only 5% of Americans are cellphone-free, many in the 2000 poll misjudged themselves or the technology, or both. Many older Americans who may have accurately predicted their non-adoption of cellphones have passed away since 2000, and the younger Americans who have replaced them in the population are nearly universal adopters. Both forces are driving up the total share of the population that uses cellphones.

In 2007, the iPhone and other smartphone products were introduced, creating an incentive for people to adopt mobile technology that adults in the 2000 poll couldn't have anticipated. No longer were phones just for talking; they were also for texting, checking email, shopping, banking, reading, listening to music, surfing the web and more.

As a 2015 Gallup survey found, in less than 20 years, cellphones have gone from something half of Americans didn't have and a quarter thought they'd never need, to something a solid majority say has improved their lives and almost half couldn't imagine living without, concludes the report.

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