This morning, the Pew Internet & American Life Project released new survey data (n=2,252 US adults) on smartphone adoption. The organization says that 56 percent of all US adults now have smartphones. However, among the population of mobile phone owners (91 percent of US adults), the smartphone penetration number is now 61 percent.
By comparison, comScore’s estimate is that roughly 58 percent of mobile phone owners have smartphones. Nielsen hasn’t released an official estimate in some time, but the firm’s number is now at or above 60 percent, in all likelihood.
According to the Pew survey data, dominant majorities of under-60 and higher-income consumers own smartphones today. For example, among those in the 30 to 49 age category making $75,000 or more, 87 percent have a smartphone.
Pew’s survey data reveal the following about mobile phone operating system ownership: 25 percent own an iPhone, 28 percent own Android and 5 percent own either the BlackBerry or Windows Phone. These figures are lower than smartphone-only comparisons (i.e., comScore) because they include all mobile phone owners.
Pew confirms earlier survey data showing demographic differences among smartphone owners. The Android population is more diverse (ethnically and by income); iPhone owners are more affluent:
Cell phone owners from a wide range of educational and household income groupings have similar levels of Android adoption, but those from the upper end of the income and education spectrum are much more likely than those with lower income and educational levels to say they own an iPhone. Indeed, fully half—49%—of cell owners with a household income of $150,000 or more say their phone is an iPhone. And African-American cell owners are more likely than whites or Latinos to say that their phone is an Android device as opposed to an iPhone.
The survey data were captured in April of this year and, like comScore, cast some doubt on claims of Windows Phone growth in the US.
IT consulting and device-tracking firm IDC said this week that for the first time, on a global basis, smartphone shipments will exceed those of feature phones. That’s a watershed moment. It would not be hard to imagine 80 percent smartphone penetration in the US by the end of 2014.
The decline of feature phones brings with it the decline of SMS-based marketing, which has historically been pitched as a universal way to reach mobile consumers irrespective of operating system or platform. SMS will still have a role to play in mobile marketing, but it will be limited.