By the end of the third quarter of 2011, 43% of all U.S. mobile phone subscribers owned a smartphone, research firm Nielsen finds. And that figure shoots up dramatically for younger consumers. 54% of mobile phone users age 18-24 and 35-44 own smartphones—the percentage leaps to 62% for those age 25-34.
Other groups show slightly lower penetration rates. 40% of the mobile phones of children age 12-17 and consumers age 45-54 are smartphones, Nielsen says. 30% of U.S. mobile phone owners age 55-64 and 18% age 65 or older use smartphones.
A vast number of younger U.S. consumers use smartphones while shopping at least several times per week, so there is an opportunity for retailers to engage with consumers as they begin shopping, says David Gill, vice president of mobile media and marketing at Nielsen.
“Knowing that these demographic segments will spend more total time on the mobile web and in mobile apps than other groups should encourage retailers to advertise through the mobile channel,” Gill says. “Increasingly, smartphones are shifting the balance of time spent away from traditional channels and onto the mobile platform, and this research shows that if you want to connect with 18- to 34-year-olds, mobile is where they are.”
After younger adults, the segment with the second fastest-growing smartphone penetration rate is those age 55-64. While smartphone penetration among this older group is only 30%, it jumped 5% during Q3 2011, Nielsen finds.
As the smartphone market continues to expand, Google Inc.’s Android remains the most popular smartphone operating system in the United States with 43% of the market, while Apple Inc. is the top smartphone manufacturer with 28% of smartphone consumers brandishing an iPhone, Nielsen says. BlackBerry smartphones make up 18% of the market, Windows Phone devices 7% and others 4%.