Smartphones now more attainable, desirable for Americans: comScore

Feature phone owners are upgrading more to smartphones -- and mostly those running on Android -- according to a new report.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor on

The number of U.S. mobile phone subscribers switching from feature phones to smartphones is almost at the halfway mark, according to a new report from comScore.

Roughly 110 million Americans owned a smartphone device as of April 2012, an increase of 44 percent from the previous year. Specifically, 47.5 percent of feature phone owners switched to a smartphone when buying a new device in April -- up from 38 percent at the same time in 2011.

At the same time, American consumers that upgraded from an old feature phone to a feature phone shifted decreased from 60.6 percent to 50.7 percent. That's a drop of 9.9 percent compared to the increase seen with smartphone ownership of 9.5 percent. That disparity of U.S. consumers that upgraded any mobile device is hardly negligable, although it might be curious to know why those few consumers gave up cell phones altogether.

Neverthesless, Mark Donovan, comScore's senior vice president of Mobile, remarked in the report that smartphone ownership is becoming the norm for a few reasons that revolve around one concept: money.

The growing number of smartphones available to consumers, accompanied by the decrease in price points and surge in mobile media content, have made smartphone ownership possible and desirable for many more. Within the year, we expect to see smartphone owners become the mobile majority, a milestone that represents not only the evolution of the mobile landscape but highlights the enormous potential for marketers as these powerful, ubiquitous devices open new opportunities to reach a growing audience of consumers.

Out of the group of consumers upgrading to smartphones, most of them are interested in Android. Approximately three out of five (61.5 percent) of first-time smartphone buyers are opting for Android, while 25.2 percent went with an iPhone.

Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 trailed way behind in third with 7.1 percent of new smartphone owners, while RIM represented 4.8 percent. However, those last two placements switch and change dramatically when you account for existing smartphone owners upgrading to a new device. In that case, RIM accounted for 9.6 percent of acquired devices, while Microsoft represented 3.0 percent.

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