Smartphone ownership: it’s not about income, it’s about age

A rather obvious photo of an older person using a phone

A new study from YouGov in the UK has found that it is age, rather than salary that has the greatest bearing on smartphone ownership. Currently 35% of UK adults own a smartphone (depending on how you define one), yet only 14% of 55 years + have one. I previously blogged about some key UK smartphone demographics. This new research confirms that the higher end phones are concentrated in the 25-45 year old demographic. Brands often tend to assume that their audience is a smartphone one (especially where they have middle to high income), yet rarely consider consumer age groups as part of their strategy.

For the older demographic, decisions on technology are much more about the perceived benefits than technology for the sake of it. However, that does not mean they will never use smartphones. Look at what happened with the internet. When older people realised they could buy cheap flights and compare insurance costs they got online and the sliver surfer became the second biggest user demographic. When it comes to mobile, they use SMS (close to 90%). Perhaps they don’t send as many messages as the younger age groups, but they use it when it is useful. Similarly, 1/3rd of grandparents are using social media. Facebook is the biggest picture sharing site in the world, and for grandparents it offers a good way to keep up with their grandchildren.

If mobile becomes as useful as online for travel, money or photo sharing then expect to see a large uptake by the over 55s.

Another interesting finding of the study is that the current 35% saturation is up just 33% from the previous quarter. This could indicate a slow down in smartphone buying. Perhaps most people who want one, have already bought it?

One thought on “Smartphone ownership: it’s not about income, it’s about age

  1. Pingback: Mobile Predictions for 2012 « The Future of Mobile and Mobile Marketing

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