« Return to Mobile Website

Newsletter Sign-Up

Schedule a Tour

Does My Company Subscribe?

'Generation Y' Leads the Way on Smartphones

24- to 32-year-olds most likely of any age group to own smartphones, use apps

January 15, 2013 | Demographics | Mobile

According to May research from Forrester, younger consumers old enough to have a bit more cash on hand are leading the way on mobile. The research firm found that Generation Y, which it defined as consumers between the ages of 24 to 32, led the US in smartphone and mobile adoption. Nearly all Generation Y consumers owned a mobile phone of some kind and 72% owned smartphones. Nationwide 93% of Americans owned mobile phones, but just 50% owned smartphones, Forrester found.

US Mobile Phone and Smartphone Penetration, by Generation, May 2012 (% of internet users in each group)

And these younger consumers aren’t shying away from more expensive mobile devices. Generation Y is the only generation more likely to own an iPhone than any other handset; in all other age categories, Samsung either led or tied with Apple. LG, the third most popular mobile phone manufacturer, was particularly favored by older users, but was less popular with Generation Y than with any other age cohort.

US Smartphone Users, by Generation and Manufacturer, May 2012 (% of total)

A separate study by Flurry from September confirmed that the Generation Y age group was also the most likely to use mobile and tablet apps. In the Flurry study, the greatest percentage of smartphone app users, 33%, were concentrated among those ages 25 to 34. Among tablet app users as well, the greatest share were between 25 and 34.

Smartphone and Tablet App Users Worldwide, by Demographic, Sep 2012 (% of total)

Why is generation Y leading the pack? Because they are in a demographic sweet spot. Younger consumers are more likely to have too little money to afford a smart device, compared to their slightly older peers. Older consumers may have the money, but are less likely to see a smartphone as useful or relevant to them. Members of Generation Y are young enough to value smartphones but old enough to be able to buy them, suggesting that they will be smartphone power users for years to come.

Reasons US Mobile Phone Owners Have Not Upgraded to a Smartphone, by Age, April 2012 (% of respondents in each group)

Corporate subscribers have access to all eMarketer analyst reports, articles, data and more. Join the over 750 companies already benefiting from eMarketer’s approach. Learn more.

Check out today’s other articles, “Mobile Helps with New Year's Resolutions” and “In Asia-Pacific, Social Media Inspires Travelers.”



  • Go beyond the articles:

    eMarketer Products

    You've never experienced research like this.

  • Hear from our clients:

    Customer Stories

    Nearly all Fortune 500 companies rely on us.

  • Want to learn more?

    Contact Us

    Inquire about corporate subscriptions today.