The Lost Market

In the last year, the number of American adults owning smartphones has increased substantially, surpassing the number of people who own feature phones. The Pew Research Center and the Pew Internet Project conducted a survey of 2,253 adults who own mobile phones. According to PC Magazine, the survey results revealed that there are currently more smartphone users than there are feature phone users in the United States, with 53 percent of American mobile phone owners owning smartphones.

Popularity of Smartphones

To put things into perspective, consider that 88 percent of adults in the U.S. own some type of cell phone. As of March 2012, 46 percent, or nearly half of American adults who own mobile phones own smartphones, an increase of 35 percent from May 2011 ownership, according to Pew Internet Project senior research specialist Aaron Smith. That contrasts against 41 percent of American adults who own a mobile phone that isn’t a smartphone.

Some mobile phone owners are still unsure as to whether the phone they have is a smartphone, however, the number of confused mobile phone owners has dropped to eight percent in 2012 from 14 percent in 2011. The driving force behind U.S. smartphone ownership is the huge popularity of both iPhones and Android-based devices. There are more Android phone users than there are iPhone users, according to the Pew Research Center survey. In 2012, 20 percent of cell phone owners owned Android phones — an increase of five percent from 2011. The percentage of mobile owners with iPhones was 19 percent, an increase of 9 percent over 2011.

What Makes Smartphones so Popular?

The release of the highly advertised iPhone 4S following the death of Steve Jobs brought out new iPhone buyers in force. Now that multiple different mobile phone carriers are selling both iPhones and Android-based phones, the competition between providers is even stiffer. In July of 2011, AT&T made the decision that they would slow access speed for the heaviest data users.

As smartphone popularity increased, so did the need for plans that allowed for heavy data use.

Originally, one of the things that drew mobile phone users to smartphones was the availability of unlimited plans that allowed subscribers the freedom to talk, text friends and family, share pictures, take advantage of social network integration, Internet surfing and more. Surprisingly, the end of unlimited service plans didn’t lower the percentage of mobile phone owners who have smartphones.

Demographics of Smartphone Ownership

The popularity of Android based and iPhone devices brought about a surge in ownership of both these types of devices, and in the process, dealt a blow to BlackBerry, Windows and Palm-based devices. One of the most interesting statistics regarding smartphone ownership involves the demographics. Regardless of income or education, smartphone ownership is higher than average among young adults.

By and large, smartphone ownership among older adults is relatively uncommon. They’re still using feature phones and the mobile OS developed for them. A Nielsen study revealed similar results, however, according to their findings, the most likely demographic to own smartphones are people between the ages of 24 and 34, and particularly, those whose incomes exceed $100,000 yearly.

Rise in Smartphone Ownership

Drawing on information from the Pew Research Center Survey, PC Magazine notes that the popularity of smartphones is directly related to the popularity of iPhones and Android-based phones, and that their popularity accounts for the rise in ownership. What the survey failed to mention is that along with a rise in smartphone popularity, more companies have started to offer consumers the opportunity to purchase both feature phones and Android-based smart phones. They also offer the unlimited service that is no longer available with major providers like AT&T and Verizon, for a flat monthly fee, without the need to have a contract.

Both feature phones and smartphones offer consumers the ability to do things that were once only possible to do from a computer at home, anywhere on the go. Though smartphones are gaining in popularity, feature phones are still commonly used by households in America.



Researcher and Content Writer at e-Syndicate Network. A constant learner. Learning and growing every day. Salman has over 5 years of experience in the fields of Digital Marketing, Content Writing, Brand and Business Development.