Smartphone Growth Will Be Even Greater

Currently, 82% of Americans own a cellular phone, and we expect that number to grow closer and closer to 100% over the next several years. According to a survey of some 37,000 individuals by Forrester Research, smartphones are only in the hands of 17% of Americans. If you do the math, that means there are 255 million potential customers wandering around in the space between Canada and Mexico (plus Alaska and Hawaii, of course) without proper mobile digital connectivity.

Now before you go and tout that more younger people own smartphones than older less tech-saavy Americans, think again. Forrester’s survey indicates that the ratio is roughly the same among members of Generation Y (18-30) and Generation X (31-40) as the general populace. And only one quarter of Americans have an unlimited data plan to supplement their phone; less than half have any mobile internet access at all.

We’re saddened by the number of Americans that don’t own smartphones, but by the same token we’re also encouraged by the potential size of the market over the next several years. There was a time when only a small portion of Americans owned computers, or had in-home access to the internet. Or owned a car, for that matter. Times are changing and more technology is finding its way into the homes, pockets, and hands of the people.

So what’s the problem? It’s the value proposition: smartphone makers are still running into hurdles convincing typically spend-happy Americans that it’s worth the extra initial cost and monthly charges to upgrade to a smartphone. Apple has experienced some success in making that case, and it’s an area where Palm and HP have struggled recently. But if that case can be made, the explosive growth the smartphone industry has experienced over the past few years will pale in comparison to the coming decade.

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