July 11, 2011

Smartphone Adoption and Usage

Platform differences in smartphone adoption

As noted in the introduction to this report, our definition of smartphone ownership includes a question based on the platform (operating system) of each respondent’s phone. The relative adoption rates for different platforms among all cell owners and within the smartphone population are as follows:5

  • 15% of cell owners (representing 35% of smartphone owners) describe their phone as an Android device
  • 10% of cell owners (24% of smartphone owners) describe their phone as an iPhone
  • 10% of cell owners (24% of smartphone owners) describe their phone as a Blackberry
  • 2% of cell owners (4% of smartphone owners) describe their phone as a Windows phone
  • 2% of cell owners (6% of smartphone owners) describe their phone as a Palm device

In examining smartphone adoption within demographic groups, several key trends stand out:

  • African-Americans and young adults have higher than average rates of Android adoption. One-quarter (26%) of black cell owners say that they have an Android device, which is significantly higher than the rate for both whites (12%) and Latinos (16%). By contrast, just 5% of African-American cell owners own an iPhone, which is half the national average. Similarly, 26% of cell owners ages 18-24 are Android owners, making Android phones roughly twice as popular within this group as iPhones, and three times as prevalent as Blackberry devices.
  • Ownership rates for Blackberry and iPhone devices are particularly high among the well-educated and the relatively well-off. Compared with those in the lowest income and education groupings, cell phone owners with a college degree or a household income of $75,000 or more per year are approximately 3-4 times as likely to say that their phone is a Blackberry or an iPhone. Blackberry ownership is also higher among those who are employed full-time (15% of such cell owners have a Blackberry) compared with cell owners who are employed part-time (6%) or who are not employed for pay (6%).
  • Smartphone ownership is generally low among rural residents, but urban and suburban dwellers are much more likely than their rural counterparts to own an iPhone. Just 5% of rural cell phone owners say that they own an iPhone, compared with one in ten urban and suburban cell owners.
  1. Our findings for the proportion of smartphone owners with Android, Blackberry and Apple devices are nearly identical to April 2011 findings by Nielsen and ComScore. Both Nielsen and Comscore found that 36% of smartphone owners are Android users, and that 26% of smartphone owners have an iPhone. Nielsen found that Blackberry phones represent 23% of the smartphone market, while ComScore calculated Blackberry penetration at 26%. Our findings differ more dramatically for the Windows and Palm platforms. Our platform “market share” figures for Windows phones are roughly half that found by Nielsen and Comscore, while our comparable figure for the Palm platform is roughly twice that found by these organizations. For more information on their studies, see http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/consumer/android-leads-u-s-in-smartphone-market-share-and-data-usage/ and http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2011/6/comScore_Reports_April_2011_U.S._Mobile_Subscriber_Market_Share