Nielsen: Smartphone ownership rates clash over age, income

Nielsen: Smartphone ownership rates clash over age, income

Summary: Your age and your income have probably determined whether or not you own a smartphone, according to a new report.


Based on age alone, it would not be news that younger consumers are much more likely to own a smartphone than older consumers. But when you throw income into the equation, it becomes a completely different story.

To start off, overall smartphone penetration stood around 48 percent domestically by the end of January, according to a new report from Nielsen Wire.

The age group with the highest levels of smartphone ownership was the 24 to 34-year-old demographic with 66 percent of respondents acknowledging that they own a smartphone. In fact, 8 out of 10 people in this group got them in the last three months.

However, when income was taken into account, consumers between the ages of 55 and 64 with salaries of over $100,000 per year made up the difference and were almost as likely as those in the 35 to 44 year age group making only $35,000 to $75,000 annually.

Smartphones aren't really cheap commodities. On average, they cost $199 with the requirement of a two-year service agreement, data plans, and more. That can add up to several hundreds of dollars extra within a few months.

If you don't want to deal with all of that, then you have to fork over around $599 or $699 for an unsubsidized device -- and then you still have to pay for some kind of service plan (pay-as-you-go, etc.) afterwards.

Thus, a smartphone is an investment at any age, any income.

But the takeaway point here (especially important to anyone trying to sell these devices, ranging from marketing departments to the developers) would be that younger generations care more about the technology and are more likely to pay a high price regardless of the income, while older generations will probably only pay for these advanced devices if they have the extra income to do so.

For reference, the Nielsen report is based upon the responses of more than 20,000 mobile consumers in the United States who were surveyed in January.

Images via Nielsen Wire


Topics: Smartphones, Hardware, Mobility

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Nielsen: Smartphone ownership rates clash over age, income

    Personally, I refuse to buy a smartphone until one of the carriers (currently on AT&T) come out with an affordable family data plan. I will not pay extra for a data plan that I would rarely (if ever) use myself, but would consider purchasing smartphones for the family (but not at the exorbitant individual data rates!).
  • A large expenditure does not an investment make.

    Just because something is relatively expensive does not make it an investment. Investments are supposed to provide a return on the capital, which smartphones will not in and of themselves do.<br><br>G U C C I products cost a fair bit of money, but they are not investments.
    • Just like the Franklin Mint

      There are exceptions, of course. You could buy a Lumia phone now with the intention of selling it on eBay at collectors prices after Nokia goes belly-up.
      Robert Hahn
    • Not true

      If you provide onsite service, maybe you buy a van. The van does not provide a direct return. You're not a taxi, but you list it as capital and amortize it anyway, because you need it to do your job.

      The ads they showed a few years ago where a gaggle of suits wander into a meeting, and only the guy that can access the info on his smartphone may seem silly, but it's true. The guy with the answer wins.

      Personally, I used an android tablet to setup an environment for conformance testing. That testing cost about $1,000 and hour and I shaved four hours off of setup. That tablet paid for itself in its first week.
  • RE: Nielsen: Smartphone ownership rates clash over age, income

    Your age and your income have probably determined whether or not you own a Ferrari, according to a new report.

    No kidding.