A new study from research firm Frank N. Magid Associates, seen by eMarketer, found that the number of mobile phone users in the U.S. who owned or used a smartphone this year reached 74 percent, up from 58 percent last year, as smartphones continue to push feature phones out of the market. Tablet ownership saw an even larger increase, leaping from 33 percent of mobile phone users in 2012 to 52 percent this year.
The study also found that mobile phone users between the ages of 18 and 34 use smartphones and tablets as their primary means of consuming entertainment content. Thirty-five percent said they use a smartphone or tablet as their primary medium for entertainment, followed by 34 percent who said they used a laptop or PC more frequently. Only 21 percent of mobile phone users in that age group named television as their primary medium for entertainment.
The data support a wealth of previous research that mobile devices are steadily eating away at the market share of personal computers, and that they are becoming the primary means of computing and entertainment for consumers. IDC predicted that tablet shipments will surpass PC shipments by the end of the year, as tablets are less expensive and more portable than PCs, thus becoming more favorable among consumers.
It’s obvious that the smartphone and tablet markets continue to grow, but how are different companies that make the devices measuring up? IDC found that for the second quarter of 2013, devices running on Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system had a 79.3 percent share, Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS came in at 13.2 percent, Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone had 3.7 percent, and BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) notched 2.9 percent of the market.
IDC’s research has suggested that as the smartphone and tablet markets become more saturated, cheaper devices will be the most important for continued growth, especially in education and emerging markets. This could mean trouble for Apple, which has thus far refused to make a low-cost device. Cheap phones running on Google’s Android platform have already been highly popular in emerging markets, and as the growth in developed nations stagnates, Apple may see its growth opportunities stolen by Google.
The study forecasts that 80 percent of mobile phone users will use smartphones and 64 percent will use tablets by 2014.
Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS