Thursday, March 29, 2012

Nearly reach 50% of mobile users now own smartphones: but note of caution, just because a cell phone is labeled a "smartphone" doesn't mean it is being used that way

New findings from Nielsen say that nearly half of all mobile phone subscribers now own a smartphone – and that phone is most likely an iPhone or Android phone as fewer and fewer buyers are opting for a BlackBerry.

But the two seemingly separate findings are most definitely related and is why readers should be cautious about these findings. While it is logical to assume that former BlackBerry owners are choosing either an iPhone or Android phone to replace their old keyboard phone, other feature phone users who are now mostly buying inexpensive Android phones may not be buying and using those phones in a manner common to, say, iPhone owners. In other words, the phone may be called a "smartphone" but that does not mean they will be big data hogs and open to your media apps.

If my analysis is right, it may help explain why Apple's iOS platform continues to account for the lion's share of web traffic from mobile devices.

Will this change? Yes, if the economy picks up and consumers are willing to pay those larger cellphone bills from carriers. If not, consumers will continue to opt for inexpensive cellphones and then be as frugal as possible with their carrier plans.

Another interesting finding in the Nielsen report was that Apple's iPhone share of smartphone sales grew to 43 percent of sales made over the past three months. That gain, however, came almost exclusively from RIM's BlackBerry – again reinforcing the notion that iPhone users see and will use their phones as smartphones. (My wife is a former BlackBerry user who moved to the iPhone a year and a half ago and hasn't looked back.)

The report's findings appeared today on the Nielsen blog.