How Mainstream Are Smart Phones?

Smartphones, or app phones, are dominating the headlines these days and simply judging by that, there is nothing else but smartphones anymore. To make a business case, we like a bit more solid data that goes beyond a press release. Have you ever wondered what the actually addressable smartphone market in the U.S. is?

According to Comscore, there were 49.1 million active smartphone users in the U.S. at the end of May – which is grows quickly, but is still dwarfed by the total of 234 million cellphone users. 42% of smartphone users have a Blackberry, 24% an iPhone, 13% an Android device and 5% a Palm phone. The growth is clearly there – the total number of smartphone numbers jumped by 8% just in the 3-month period between February and May. And given the hype around the iPhone 4, we can expect healthy growth for the next three months as well.

While the Comscore numbers give a bird’s eye view of the market, there has been another study by Pew Internet & American Life project that looked into the way how cellphones are used today. As so often Pew’s study is an interesting read – you can find it here. Overall, Pew found that 72% of cellphone owners text, 34% use their phones for email and 38% access the Internet. Remember, this number applies to the entire cellphone market, not just smartphones, so it is a remarkable share.

Not surprisingly, you adults between the ages 18 and 29 are much more likely to use data services on their phones. 65% of people in this group use their phones for Internet access. Pew also found that the way we use mobile Internet access depends heavily on education an income. The better the education and the higher the income, the more like it is that we use both a laptop and a cellphone for Internet access. On the other end, less education and less income make sit more likely that someone access the internet with only a cellphone. Owning and using a laptop is still very much tied to disposable income, while the cellphone has become, quite apparently, the mobile Internet access device of choice across all population groups that may, in fact, bridge another digital divide.