Who Is the Smartphone-Dependent Consumer? - eMarketer

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Who Is the Smartphone-Dependent Consumer?

One-fifth of smartphone owners rely mostly or completely on their phones for web access

April 9, 2015

For many consumers, there’s no need to worry about getting off the couch to answer the telephone anymore. According to data released GfK MRI earlier this month, more than four in 10 US adults lived in households with a mobile phone but no landline phone last year—up 70% over 2010, when mobile phone-only penetration was 26%.

US Adults Who Live in Mobile Phone-Only* Households, 2010 & 2014 (% of population)

Millennials were more likely than the general consumer to go without landlines, with 64% reporting being mobile phone-only. Still, penetration among older generations was significant: 45% of Gen Xers and 32% of baby boomers. Hispanics were also heavily mobile phone-only, at 60%.

Beyond voice calls, some consumers have also become dependent on mobile devices for another at-home activity: accessing the internet, according to October 2014 polling by Pew Research Center.

One in 10 US smartphone owners said they had no other form of high-speed internet access at home beyond their data plan. More broadly, 15% of respondents who owned smartphones had few internet options besides their phones. Overall, about one-fifth of respondents fell into one or both of these categories, and 7% said both conditions applied to them—making them smartphone-dependent.

Demographic Profile of US Smartphone Owners Who Depend on Their Smartphones for Internet Access, Oct 2014 (% of respondents in each group)

Millennials overindexed here as well, with 15% being smartphone-dependent. One-fifth of 18-to-29-year-old smartphone owners didn’t have broadband at home, and a quarter had few web access options beyond their phones. Hispanics—huge fans of mobile data—and blacks were more likely than whites to be smartphone-dependent, and females were slightly more likely than males to rely on their smartphones for online access.

Smartphone-dependent users are strapped for cash and big mobile data users, as 48% said they had been forced to cancel or suspend service due to financial constraints, and 51% reported frequently or occasionally reaching the maximum data allowed on their smartphone plan. Mobile service providers that offer low-cost plans with high—or unlimited—data options stand the best chance at attracting these heavy smartphone users.

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