New data on the U.S. cellphone market released by Nielsen shows smartphone penetration rising over the June-August period to 64 percent of all U.S. mobile phone owners. And longer-term trends show an even brighter future for the smartphone, with 80 percent of new acquirers in the same period opting for smartphones.
The U.S. smartphone penetration level pales in comparison to locations like the United Arab Emirates, which claims a 73.8 percent rate of smartphone usage among all local mobile phone users, based on Google figures, supposedly the world’s highest level.Still, according to Pew data from June, 91 percent of U.S. adults now own a mobile phone. And the smartphone numbers look to be ramping up even faster among the young, with Nielsen’s data showing 81 percent of mobile phone users in the 25-34 age bracket owning smartphones, and almost 70 percent of teenage mobile phone users in the 13-17 age band. Indeed, only a rump of older users, with 50 percent of mobile phone subscribers aged 55 or over using basic feature phones, are holding down the figures from going even higher.
The omens for ebook platforms could not be clearer. High-spending young professionals are going to be overwhelmingly smartphone users in the very near future. Mobile media and mobile data are going to be a big part of their overall media consumption habits. Whether in the shape phablets or smaller iterations, smartphones are going to take a big share of people’s ereading time, and ereader software makers, ebook retail site operators, and digital publishers and booksellers had better be well aware of the fact.