A couple of years ago, BlackBerry devices were the most popular for teens with BBM and low-cost data options helping that popularity. As shared data plans appeared, older-generation iPhones dropped significantly in price, and people left BBM to join iMessage. The Apple iPhone moved in and now dominates the teen landscape. According to the latest Piper Jaffray study, 48 percent of teens now own an iPhone, with 62 percent planning on making one their next mobile device.
T-Mobile is rolling out its first official iPhone this week, and with a younger demographic customer base than other carriers, the timing seems to be just about perfect. I've read people stating that they are concerned about the no-subsidy strategy, but hopefully the teens will do the simple math that adults refuse to do and see that T-Mobile's strategy is cheaper than going with a subsidized phone and hidden payment plan.
My 16-year-old daughter saved up money from working as a soccer referee and bought her own iPhone 4 to use on T-Mobile last year, and my oldest is getting an iPhone 5 for her 19th birthday. The appeal for both of them was to combine their iPod and phone experience into one and use services such as Instagram, Vine, and Twitter. They don't use Facebook much anymore, which HTC and Facebook may not like to hear.
In 2012, the Piper Jaffray study results of 7,700 teens showed that 40 percent had an iPhone, with 62 percent planning to buy one. It looks like the 62 figure is fairly consistent, and that plans don't always work out. We did see an 8 percent increase over 2012, though, so there is still significant growth in the teen market.
With teens buying iPhones and family plans that make it less expensive to own one, the smartphone market looks solid for Apple as these teens then move into adulthood. I have an iPhone 5 and find myself using it more and more lately thanks in large part to the apps, the compact size, and the Verizon long-term evolution (LTE) network I use it with.
While we smartphone enthusiasts may think iOS on the iPhone is a bit boring compared to fresh looks on Windows Phone, Android, and BlackBerry 10, the sales indicate that it isn't a problem for Apple.