US Teen Mobile Market Nearly Saturated

July 15, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Hispanic | Telecom | Women | Youth & Gen X

The number of teen cellular subscribers in the US surpassed 16 million in 2007- that was up 12% from 2006 – but growth is stagnating,?according to a report from market research consultancy MultiMedia Intelligence (MMI).

Despite this increase, wireless penetration rates for teens (those age 12-17) is approaching saturation, primarily because the teen market is not a multiple-handset demographic, MMI said.

The report, “The Maturing Wireless Teen Market: 12-17 US Teen Wireless Subscribers, Revenue, ARPU and Content” forecasts that by 2012 the number of teen subscribers will reach 17 million, an increase of only 1 million from 2007.

But because teens teach their older counterparts, including their parents, how to use their handsets and value-added services, adding to the ARPU (average revenue per user) of older demographics. (ARPU is the amount of monthly operator revenue received from a subscriber.)

Moreover, “teen ARPU has been growing higher than that of the overall market. Teens simply use their phones to do more, from text messaging to purchasing premium content,” said Frank Dickson, chief research officer for MMI.


“However, pricing pressures and teen cellular saturation are bringing an end to the teen cellular gold rush,” Dickson added.

Other key findings about teen wireless subscribers:

  • Subscriber growth is seasonal, with Q3 and Q4 the stronger quarters.
  • More than half of teens are cellular subscribers by age 13.
  • On average, girls mature cellularly earlier than boys. Even in older age groups, teen female subscribers outnumber male subscribers. However, the gap among those in the 17-year-old age group has narrowed greatly.
  • The Hispanic teen market has become significant, projected to approach 3 million subscribers by 2012.
  • The teen market is a primary source of new subscribers for carriers. By age 17, the majority of teens have wireless services, with the penetration skewing higher for females.

About the research: The proprietary report analyzes the US 12-17-year-old teen wireless market in terms of subscribers, ARPU and revenue. Forecasts and segmentation are provided on an annual and a quarterly basis by race, age and sex. A special emphasis is placed on examining the market on a gender by age perspective as well as the Hispanic/Latino ethnicity. The research relies on the supply-side models of MultiMedia Intelligence and primary-based survey data of 2,000-2,500 teens annually from the Simmons National Consumer study.


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