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20% of American subs have a smartphone with 1.2 million switching every month

According to The State of Mobile Apps | Nielsen Wire 21% of American wireless subscribers have a smartphone at Q4 2009, up from 19% in the previous quarter and significantly higher than the 14% at the end of 2008.

A previous Comscore survey showed US smartphone penetration at about 17%.

If we were to blend the data to a rough estimate, I would say it’s fair to assume 20% penetration.  The total number of subscribers in the US is about 234 million, which makes for 46.8 million smartphone users.

This still leaves 80% or 187.2 million non-smartphone users.

The share gain of 6%/yr. means another 1.2 million Americans are switching into a smartphone every month.  Another decade and the non-smartphone market will simply be gone.

With AT&T lowering the barriers of entry with data plan pricing and with other operators matching, don’t be surprised if it happens sooner.

As saturation begins around 50% to 60% penetration, price competition will intensify.  That takes the tipping point to about 2013.