How many smartphone users will there be in the US?

In yesterday’s post forecasting smartphone penetration I neglected to mention the exact subset of the US population being sampled. The analysis is based on comScore’s sampling which covers only those devices which are the “primary phone” for users  over 13 years old and not provided by an employer.

In other words, the population being sampled is not meant to identify how many phones will be in use but rather what is the primary phone for those non-children who choose their own phones.

So the measurement that can be obtained from the S curve analysis is a subset of all phone users and will not identify exactly how many phones will be in use. Given that, this is what that subset looks like:

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 10-8-9.41.00 PM

I drew a line showing the census data (and projection) for the US population and estimated what percent of that population might be older than 13 years1

Of the remaining population, I expect smartphones will be used by nearly all by end of 2020.

That means about 270 million users. It also means that about 125 million more than are using smartphones today. Note also that a significant number of those under 13 will also use smartphones and that the metric is “primary phone” and insofar as there are more than one phone for some users they are a multiplicative factor. Finally this measure does not account for company assigned devices.

So although this measures how many users will use smartphones, the total number of such phones in use is likely to be significantly higher.

Finally, when considering the market’s potential size it’s important to have an accurate estimate of how frequently these phones are replaced. So, for instance, if we guess that 300 million smartphones will be in use and that they get replaced every 2 years then it follows that the US market for smartphones would be about 150 million units per year in 2020.

  1. I estimate 19% of the population is 0 to 13 years of age. []