Smartphone Penetration, Rising in All Age and Income Demos, Hits 75% of the US Mobile Market

comScore-Smartphone-Share-of-Mobile-Subscriber-Market-Jan2012-Dec2014-Feb2015Three of every 4 US mobile subscribers aged 13 and older owned a smartphone during the 3-month period ending in December 2014 (Q4 2014), reveals comScore in its latest market update. Data provided to MarketingCharts by comScore indicates that while penetration remains highest among youth and higher-income consumers, smartphone adoption has been growing quickly among lower-income and older Americans.

As of December 2014, almost 9 in 10 (88.9% of) mobile subscribers aged 25-34 owned a smartphone, with those aged 18-24 (88.6%) right on their heels. These two groups have maintained the highest adoption rates going at least as far back as January 2013, when penetration stood at 73.5% and 72.2%, respectively.

(Of note, a recent survey from the Interactive Advertising Bureau found that 9 in 10 Millennial mothers – aged 18-32 – in the US now own a smartphone, up from 65% in 2012. This represents the first time that smartphone ownership has outpaced laptop and desktop penetration, with the survey also noting that this segment spends 35% more time online with their smartphones than online via laptop or desktop.)

comScore-Smartphone-Share-of-Mobile-Subscriber-Market-by-Age-Jan2013-Dec2014-Feb2015

In both relative and absolute terms, though, it’s been the youngest and oldest groups that have driven the uptick in smartphone penetration. Remembering that these percentage figures are among mobile subscribers, consider that:

  • As of December 2014, 83.7% of teens (13-17) owned a smartphone, up from 58.9% in January 2013;
  • The percentage of 55-64-year-old mobile subscribers with a smartphone grew from 40.4% to 61.5% during that timeframe, passing the majority threshold in January of last year; and
  • Almost half (46.6% of) mobile subscribers aged 65 and older owned a smartphone in December 2014, almost double the share (24.5%) from January 2013.

It bears noting that, according to a recent Rocket Fuel study [download page], almost half of internet-using adults with a child under 18 in the household plan to buy their child a mobile phone by the time they turn 13.

Looking at income-related trends, the comScore data demonstrates that smartphone penetration correlates with household income, with adoption trending higher alongside each income bracket. Indeed, more than 8 in 10 mobile subscribers who hail from households with pre-tax income of at least $75,000 per year now own smartphones, including 84.3% of those with household income of at least $100,000 per year.

comScore-Smartphone-Share-of-Mobile-Subscriber-Market-by-HHI-Jan2013-Dec2014-Feb2015

Over the past couple of years, though, smartphone penetration has crossed the majority threshold for lower-income groups. Indeed, the latest figures indicate that 61.3% of mobile subscribers from low-income households (<$25k/year) now own a smartphone, representing an almost 50% increase from the January 2013 figure (42.9%). Among those in the $25-50k/year bracket, 7 in 10 now own a smartphone, up from 48.1% at the beginning of 2013.

For more age- and income-related media usage data, see the MarketingCharts Debrief, US Media Audience Demographics, which examines the demographic composition of a host of media channels.

Other Findings:

  • During the 3-month average ending in December 2014, Apple remained the top smartphone OEM with 41.6% share of smartphone subscribers aged 13 and older, per comScore’s figures. That market share is up by almost 4 points from 37.8% in January 2013. Samsung, the second-ranked OEM, has experienced a bigger uptick in market share during that period, from 21.4% to 29.7%.
  • In terms of smartphone platforms, Android’s majority 53.1% share in December 2014 is up only slightly from 52.3% share in January 2013. The big loser over that time span has been BlackBerry, down from 5.8% to 1.8% market share.
  • Facebook ranked as the top smartphone application again in December 2014, reaching 70.2% of the “app audience” (smartphone mobile media users aged 18 and older on iOS and Android platforms).