The people at the Nielson rating agency have just posted information about the use of smart phones (phones with an operating system for applications beyond phone/text communications) in the United States. For those of us who follow the industry, the numbers are striking though not surprising: Adaptation of smartphone technology continues to outpace traditional cellphone purchases, even if the latter retains the majority of the market:”The growing popularity of smartphones like Apple’s iPhone, RIM’s Blackberry devices and a variety of Google Android-based models on the market, has accelerated the adoption rate. Among those who acquired a new cellphone in the past six months, 41 percent opted for a smartphone over a standard feature phone, up from 35 percent last quarter.”But what else do we learn from the Nielson report about who uses the technology, and which OSes are growing in popularity?
The growing momentum of smartphone purchases is perhaps the most striking dynamic. Some 30% of new purchases in the Fourth Quarter of 2009 were smartphones, whereas the Q3 number in 2010 (i.e.: before the start of the holiday shopping season) is 41%. For the Europhiles amongst us, Italy and Spain have the highest adoptions of smartphones, which the Nielson report gives as 33% and 37% respectively. If such figures cause you to lament that the US is ‘Not No.1!’ remember that telecommunications companies have much smaller and rather less diverse markets to infiltrate.Probably because of the diversity of operating systems on the market, customers can make choices based on both hardware and software. Though the two sides of the purchasing question have been a part of computer technology since the mid-1980s, in the smartphone world the assumption has been RIM/Blackberry or (a distant second) Windows Mobile. Nielson now can track seven different OSes, though. And the countervailing trends are that RIM/Blackberry is notably losing market share whereas Google’s Android is clearly picking up in popularity (though still below Apple’s iOS for the iPhone).
One of the trends we found particularly interesting (and one that communications companies and organizations that depend on outreach and engagement better take heed of) is the demarcation of ages and smartphone use. As the chart on the right demonstrates, users below 45 have different tastes in OSes and expectations of those OSes than do their over-45 colleagues and family members. As we noted above, Apple’s iPhone and the Google Android OS are the most popular for the younger and youngish sets. But Jobs beware: a full 50% of smartphone users under 35 use Android-driven phones. Which could mean the relative rise and fall of the iPhone in but one generation of smartphone users (assuming Google makes no mistakes and/or Apple quits innovating).
When Nielson turned to the ethnicity of users, it found that the market of smartphone users is more diverse than that of traditional/feature phone users. Indeed, the use of smart phones by Hispanics is twice that of traditional phones. Companies would be wise to appreciate marketing to that diversity and civic/philanthropic groups might want to tailor future outreach programs to reach the comparatively younger and more diverse audiences of the smartphone market.
Back in August a Nielson report noted the different amounts of time spent actually talking on cell phones among the various ethnic groups listed in the report today:
African-Americans use the most voice minutes – on average more than 1,300 a month. Hispanics are the next most talkative group, chatting an average of 826 minutes a month. Even Asians/Pacific Islanders, with 692 average monthly minutes, talk more than Whites, who use roughly 647 voice minutes a month.
Though a stereotype, that same Nielson report noted that women overall talk about 22% longer than men and send almost 200 more text messages a month more. Vive la difference!
These figures tell us a great deal about the evolving market of smart phones and their operating systems. How should your organization or business reach out to the communities behind the numbers? Is a rethink of how you might leverage smartphone use in order?