One Million Americans Switching to Smartphones Every Month

Comscore revealed their latest survey resultsfor the US mobile subscriber market. From the latest data and the data previously released in October we can put together a few insights.

The number of smartphone users increased by 3.2 million, growing at over 1 million new users per month.

Apple and Android added about 1 million users each. RIM added 1.4 million with Symbian adding about 200k users. Palm lost 441k users and Microsoft lost about 44k users.

Non-smartphones lost 2.1 million users and 1 million subscribers were added to the top line.

The non-smartphones lost 1% share in the quarter and 6% since February. Smartphones make up 17% of all users.

Google has overtaken Symbian to rise from last place in the platform installed base and is closing on Palm.

At 5% share erosion per year, the non-smartphone market will completely disappear in about 14 years, though I feel 10 years is a more likely target with 5 years until the market is 50% penetrated.

  • How can the smartphone penetrate that deeply unless the monthly cost lowers?

  • It will lower, but that's not a necessity. When I think about this shift to mobile bandwidth I am reminded of two similar transitions in history.

    The first was cable TV when people went from not paying for TV to paying for TV. The OTA TV model was based on advertising in the US and on TV licenses in Europe. When cable came, users switched en masse to paying for what used to be free and they *still* got commercials in the US and had to pay license fees in Europe. The new cable systems clearly offered something that OTA did not and was worth paying every month for that. I don't have specific value prop to point to but I would guess it's the option value of all the new channels (even if not watched) that was attractive.

    The second example of people paying a new monthly bill was the emergence of internet service. People went from no internet fees to dial-up and then to paying for broadband.

    I'm still shocked at what people are paying for these bundled services (triple play–TV, internet and voice).

    Given this willingness to pay (or perhaps the value provided) I don't think moving from triple to quadruple data services is impossible. We might see a significant number move from fixed broadband to mobile broadband.