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

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.iphonesurvey2.png

  • 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

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  • Try doing anything on the iPhone with one hand

    It isn't that you can't but you'll definitely have to be more patient.

    The Nokia N95 can be used with ease using just one hand because it has a keypad.
    D T Schmitz
    • But the Nokia N95..

      doesn't have a [i]keyboard[/i].

      Type this:

      "Q. and A. session tomorrow at 5:00 PM."

      You'd better use two hands, because you'll have RSI on
      your one hand if you don't. A $650 phone that uses the
      same pathetic input method as my hateful RAZR?

      Of course, as the CNET review of the N95 says: "standby
      battery life is poor; and performance is somewhat
      sluggish. The hardware feels a bit cheap, and the sliding
      mechanism could be more secure. It's also very expensive."

      But, on the other hand, they did also say this: "poor
      battery life and sluggish performance make it hard to
      justify the high price tag."

      I know people who would call this nothing but an
      expensive dongle.
    • 90%...

      ...of what I do with my I phone is one handed.
      • Then you can't be doing much.

        D T Schmitz
  • it's like taking a sobriety test

    Not like I've ever took one. The keypad for the iPhone needs coordination, it's not like you can move your finger/thumb across the keys till you reach the correct one. It's more like aim and shoot, oh I hit the wrong key. HTC, LG, and Samsung have great QWERTY keypads, while RIMS has the best shorthand software for their phones.

    Also, the iPhone does NOT support Exchange on their phones, so you cannot receive your email from the server about that last April fools joke you wanted to hear about.
    • Aim and Shoot? WRONG.

      Either you've never actually used an iPhone, or you don't
      understand how to use one.

      If you place your finger on the onscreen keyboard and
      HOLD IT THERE, the "key cap" for the key you've selected
      will pop up. As long as you keep holding your finger on
      the screen, you can slide your finger around from key to
      key until you find the correct one.

      Also, if you press the "123" key, and hold your finger down
      and slide it over to the number you want, and then let go,
      your number will enter and the keyboard will
      automagically revert back to alphabetical mode.
  • The iPhone is displacing a notebook PC.

    Is this becuase of what you can do with an iPhone, or the fact that it's cost may prohibit many from owning both?
    • It's because...

      ...when I have my iPhone, I don't need to carry either of my
  • 5'11" - 155 lbs - naturally (shakes head) curling hair

    maybe it is easier to describe the anatomy of
    a never to be an ipod user - about precisely me.
  • RE: The anatomy of an iPhone user (and why they want new form factors)

    Please no offences, but most of iPhone users are slightly disoriented... what they want from the phone. I believe the iPhone is fashion, not business must.
    Looking at the pie chart of age distribution this is quite obvious. I know that many will object very heavy on this, but ... this is the real world, not the iPhone matrix :)
    • does iphone = ego-phone = fashion dogma?

      there seems to be a segment of those who view an iphone as an image necessity, i.e. i've got the latest style, fashion, logo thing going on ergo i'm cool, with it and in the in-crowd -- it definitely seems to fulfill an ego need. is this i-phone snobbery or egos desperately seeking affirmation of coolness or dogma disguised as fashion?
      • Dogma disguised as fashion?

        What does that mean, "dogma disguised as fashion"? The appeal of the iphone is web functionality. I want one because it simply works. Get an iphone, and the next time you need an impressive sounding word you will have help finding the right one....
    • Fashion?

      I've had a Palm and seven different PocketPC or PocketPC/phone
      devices. I used them until I wore them out. I ridiculed the whole
      idea of the iPhone, until I tried one. I am looking forward to both
      the third party apps and the G3 version. Also, I'm 58 years old so,
      no, it's not fashion.
      • used one . wasn't impressed

        have used an iphone. wasn't impressed. prefer blackberry. iphone users seeking attention by pulling their iphone out at awkward moments in meetings. a desperate cry for attention, fashion statement, and yes fashion dogma. look up dogma on your iphone if you can't figure it out.
        • Speaking of dogma....

          I like this quote: "When people are the least sure, they are often the most dogmatic." If you are so certain that the iphone is merely "fashion disguised as dogma," (whatever that means) why do you feel such a strong need to argue the point? To put it another way, why are you so dogmatic about it? Clearly, if it is all style and no substance, it will just whither on the vine....
  • RE: The anatomy of an iPhone user (and why they want new form factors)

    Yes I would like some new software and perhaps a keypad that slides out - but I love the form factor, I get all my business email handled on this device, don't carry another phone and I'll be happy with a 3G network model. This is a very functional device, even when driving down the road - okay, voice dialing would deal with my driving concerns with this device.
  • short sighted...

    This article is too short sighted. While the iPhone has re-kindled the public to multipurpose hand held devices, it's by no means the end-all device. Such a device has yet to surface, IMHO.
  • RE: The anatomy of an iPhone user (and why they want new form factors)

    The iPhone needs to decide what kind of device it wants to
    be. As a phone its a brick - roll on the Nano version a la XDA
    Orbit. More applications would be great, particularly Office.
    The key thing is Steve Jobs' obsession with his finger - a
    stylus is desperately needed for serious business users. Steve
    may do three word texts, but I do up to 500 character texts
    and emails - using a finger to do this is impossible. Steve -
    please listen - great first effort, but could do better.
    • But business users prefer a keyboard ...

      ... over a stylus.
      M Wagner
  • RE: The anatomy of an iPhone user (and why they want new form factors)

    The results are not terribly surprising.

    1) People want tactile feedback for typing.

    2) People don't want to carry a laptop.

    3) People do want laptop functionality.

    User willingness to carry a SECOND phone suggests that its not a phone that they want. They want a hand-held computer that is small enough and cheap enough to replace a laptop and have wireless access to the Internet wherever they may roam.
    M Wagner