More than half of us have smartphones

More than half of us have smartphones

Two separate surveys confirmed that smartphone penetration has not only passed half of all mobile subscribers, but has gone well beyond 50% of all adult Americans for the first time. The Pew Research Center places the figure at 56%, up from just 35% two years ago while noting the number of adults with no cell phone at all has fallen by half in that time, to just 9%.

Despite a near endless drumbeat of doom and gloom in the media lately, comScore‘s data again shows Apple AAPL -0.27% making a gain in overall market share, reaching a rec0rd 39.2% of the U.S. smartphone market. While that’s nearly double second-place Samsung, it’s significantly behind the overall Android total, which despite some slippage over the past year remains the most popular platform at 52% share. With the “modern smartphone era” now nearly 6 years old (iPhone was introduced June 21, 2007), what happens next promises to be exciting and important to the major players and is make-or-break for the minor ones.

The big picture

As popular as smartphones are overall, for young people, they’re nearly essential. In the 18-34 demographic, penetration is 80% and the limiting factor is mostly money. For those earning $75,000 and up, 90% have a smartphone already. Interestingly enough, for the elderly, the economic differences are more pronounced. Only 8% of seniors earning under $30,000 have a smartphone while those in the $75,000+ bracket are five times more likely to have one, at 43%.

Obviously, these numbers will continue to rise as people age into the older demographics but it’s also likely there will be a faster shift here than some might expect. I have fond memories of my grandfather discovering instant messaging on the computer in his last years — and this was in the late 1990s. Today’s older folks surely include some Luddites (like this Cnet reporter who doesn’t care for downloading his bills), but you can figure a lot of people will come around.

The Pew data shows that higher levels of income and education tend to correlate with iPhone usage versus Android but they don’t attempt to discern whether that is simply due to earlier adoption. Specifically, the iPhone was out there first with a complete, appealing offering that was attractive to people who could afford it. It’s less clear those people rejected Android so much as they chose iPhone because it was first.