Own a Smartphone? You’re Now in the New Majority


samsung-phoneI read the new report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project (Smartphone Ownership 2013) on my iPhone, walking down the street and trying not to get run over or crash into anything. At least I wasn’t driving …

The news? A majority (56 percent) of Americans now own a smartphone, according to Pew. You may think it’s been that way forever, but Pew says we’ve just passed a tipping point. This is the first time that a majority of people surveyed have said they own a phone that’s not dumb.

Still, some people are getting left behind. Among those 50-64 with income under $30,000, people are more than three times less likely to own a smartphone as their peers with incomes above $75,000. And for those over 65, the digital divide is even wider, with only 8 percent of those in the lowest-income group owning smartphones vs. 43 percent of those earning the most.

What are those without smartphones missing? They don’t have access to hundreds of thousands of apps for staying connected with other people and with the world at large. That includes innovative ways to help monitor health and apps that aid caregiving.

Pew Chart Smartphone Ownership

Overall, as you might suspect, the 65+ group lags with just 18 percent owning smartphones, while those 55-64, with 39 percent ownership, are second from the bottom. And the kids? The 18-24 group is in second place overall with 79 percent, just slightly under the 25-34 cohort.

A while back we marveled at Samsung’s campaign to paint iPhone owners as geezers. Here’s some data. In the 18-24 and 25-34 groups, Android phones beat iPhones by 12 and 6 points respectively. Android also has an edge among those 55-64, though not by much. And yes, Samsung, the very oldest smartphone users prefer iPhones … by a whisker.

Graph above courtesy of Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Phone image courtesy Samsung.