Don Kellogg, Senior Manager, Telecom Practice Research and Insights, The Nielsen Company
As of December 2010, nearly a third (31%) of all mobile consumers in the United States owned smartphones, cellphones with app-based, web-enabled operating systems. But smartphone penetration is even higher among mobile users who are part of ethnic and racial minorities in the U.S. – namely Asian/Pacific Islanders (45%), Hispanics (45%) and African-Americans (33%), populations that also tend to skew younger. Meanwhile, only 27 percent of White mobile users reported owning a smartphone.
Although only 42 percent of Whites who purchased a mobile phone in the past six months chose a smartphone over a feature phone, 60 percent of Asians/Pacific Islanders, 56 percent of Hispanics, and 44 of African Americans who recently bought cellphones chose smartphones.
The competition between smartphone operating systems is a heated one. When it comes to the installed base, that is, U.S. mobile consumers who already own smartphones, it is a three-way tie between Blackberry RIM, the smartphone pioneer, Apple's IOS, which revolutionized the smartphone and popularized mobile apps, and Android OS, the operating system created by Google which has been taking the market by storm.
Analyzing the preferences of those who purchased a smartphone in the past six months paints a different picture, however, one in which Android is clearly in the lead with 43 percent of recent acquirers purchasing an Android device, compared to 26 percent for Apple iOS and 20 percent for Blackberry RIM.
Apple’s iOs is the favorite among U.S. smartphone owners who are Asians/Pacific Islanders. Thirty-six percent of Asian/Pacific Islander who own smartphones have iPhones. On the other hand, RIM Blackberry is preferred by 31 percent of African-American smartphone owners.