The anatomy of an iPhone user (and why they want new form factors)

Summary:The average Apple iPhone user is an avid email reader (not writer) under age 30, browses the Web heavily and may carry a second phone. Meanwhile, a lot of these folks would like a few physical tweaks to the iPhone.

The average Apple iPhone user is an avid email reader (not writer) under age 30, browses the Web heavily and may carry a second phone. Meanwhile, a lot of these folks would like a few physical tweaks to the iPhone.

Those are some of the takeaways from a report from Rubicon, a research firm, and indicates a bevy of interesting cross currents. The survey lands as analysts debate how many iPhone units Apple can ship in 2008 and 2009.

Among the notable points in the survey:

  • Reading email is the top function in the iPhone, but users are focused on reading email not composing them. In fact, a third of iPhone users carry a second phone "either for basic voice calling, or other functions like composing e-mail."


  • Forty-three percent of iPhone users want new form factors. Rubicon said:

The market for mobile data devices has always been heavily segmented, so it's impossible for a single hardware design to please everyone. The iPhone users we surveyed confirmed that -- 43 percent of them strongly supported making at least one major physical change to the iPhone: making it larger or smaller, adding a keyboard, or adding a keypad.

Here's the breakdown of new features wanted:


  • The iPhone is displacing a notebook PC. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said that they often carry the iPhone instead of notebook PCs. Rubicon said:

This statistic deserves watching. As the iPhone attracts mainstream users, will they be less willing to replace a notebook with something else? Or will the availability of third party software for the iPhone make it an even more attractive notebook replacement? The iPhone has been viewed as a way for Apple to attack the mobile phone market, but it and its sister device, the iPod Touch, might also turn out to be a back door opportunity to take a chunk out of the PC notebook market. The PC companies should take notice.


  • Roughly half of iPhone users are under age 30 and 15 percent were students. Rubicon notes:

The survey showed that most iPhone users are relatively youthful technophiles; half are under age 30, and a third of them even carry more than one mobile phone. This group of customers is great for launching a product, but there aren't enough of them to create sustained growth. The biggest question about the future of the iPhone is whether Apple can reach beyond the early adopters to generate substantial amounts of mainstream demand for the iPhone.

  • Seventy-five percent of iPhone users are previous Apple customers. Half of the users were iPod customers with 25 percent owning a Mac.
  • The iPhone increases your mobile phone bill by about 24 percent, or $228 a year. The payoff (for AT&T): The iPhone has increased AT&T's gross service revenue by $2 billion a year, according to Rubicon estimates.
  • About 40 percent of the iPhone users surveyed said strongly that they want to add new software applications to their iPhones.
  • About 40 percent of iPhone users said the browser has trouble displaying some web pages they want to visit.

Topics: Collaboration, Hardware, iPhone, Laptops, Mobility


Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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