Mobile
Commentary
12/15/2011
11:43 PM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
Commentary
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Young Adults Drive Smartphone Sales

It is no surprise that the younger generation is in love with smartphones, but all age groups are increasingly embracing the technology.

Walk into any Apple store and look around--chances are most of the patrons are under 35. Young adults tend to embrace new technology faster than other age brackets. Smartphones bring many of these technologies together. Social networks are one of the biggest drivers, with apps like Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter being among the most popular. All other age groups are showing increasing data usage in the last twelve months, with teens showing the biggest increase.

Nielsen's report on the "Rise of Smartphones" shows that 53% of 18-24 year olds and 64% of 25-34 year olds own a smartphone. While that shows great success for makers of smartphones and wireless carriers, it also means the vendors need to start heavily targeting other markets as growth is limited in this age range.

When it comes to SMS, teens are hands down the texting kings. On average, teens between 13 and 17 years old exchange 3,417 messages per month. That is more than 100 messages per day. Those in the 65+ age bracket only exchange 64 messages per month.

When it comes to data usage, that 18-35 age range is again on top, transferring between 500 MB and 600 MB of data a month. Given that average, carriers are making a killing charging for 2 GB data plans while the most aggressive data using customers barely uses 25% of that.

The teens in the 13-17 age bracket are the fastest growing data users. Their usage increased 256% to 321 MB per month.

About the only thing in decline is voice usage. Voice usage by teens dropped from 685 minutes to 572 minutes. They claim texting is faster, easier, and more fun. I'm not sure that it is so much fun that it is worth exchanging over 3,400 messages per month.

It will be interesting to see how advertising changes in order to reach the older groups. The current crop of technically oriented ads appeal to people that understand the terminology, but they don't do much to explain how a retiree could benefit from a shiny new Droid.

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