Interesting Stats On Mobile Adoption, Smart Phones And Apps

iPhone 4 32GB BlackIf you’ve been feeling like more people have smart phones than don’t, you are pretty close to being right. Third quarter numbers from Nielsen show that in certain age groups more than 50% of people have smart phones, and overall, 43% of all US mobile phone subscribers own a smartphone. Amongt mobile phone subscribers aged 25-34, 62% report having a smart phone.

A November Wired article related stats from a recent study indicating that nearly 30% of mobile phone users worldwide are using smartphones. that same article reports that 11% of all mobile devices are running Android, 5% iOS and 5% Symbian OS. When you look at the market share among just smartphones, 43% are running Android, 28% iOS, 18% Blackberry.

Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that as of August, the number of adult cell phone woners who’ve downloaded an app to their phone increased to 38% and half of adult cell phone owners have apps on their phones. However less than half of adults with apps on their phone paid for them, according to another Pew study.

A few quick things to note: adoption in the studies above is adoption of smartphones among mobile subscribers, not all people, though numbers in some studies of that nature show vast penetration of cellphones period. There are still people without cellphone smart, feature or otherwise (sometimes easy to forget in our industry).

So what does all of this mean?


  • For starters, I think we are at a tipping point.  The cost of smart phones, even the iPhone is dropping, with Apple offering earlier versions at bargain basement prices since the release of the iPhone4s, and iPhones new availability with multiple carriers, plus the increasing number of android handsets available from a variety of carriers.  2012 will see steady, if not exponential increases in smartphone adoption.
  • Mobile is not just for phones: iPads, Xooms, Kindle Fires, and many other tablet-like devices will provide access to apps and/or the internet and more people will be using these devices in the coming year.
  • People will experience websites on an increasingly diverse number of devices, screen sizes and resolutions.
  • People will (i would say they should) come to expect that the experience of viewing a website from a device other than a laptop or desktop will not be be sub-optimal experience, ie, sites will be designed to work well on these platforms.
For organizations undertaking website projects it is important to consider whether your users are likely to visit your website from a mobile device, and think about how that will change their experience:
  • Will they spend more time, or less time on the site?
  • Will they be on a wifi network, or a mobile data network?
  • Will they be arriving on the site via social media referral (Facebook, Twitter)? or via Email?
  • Or will they be arriving by entering a url directly into their mobile browser after seeing it advertised (print media or outdoor)
  • Or after snapping a photo of a QR code (2d barcode) in an advertisement?
The answer to all of these questions will guide and shape design and technology choices.


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