The Under 44 Crowd Prefers Smartphones, But Everyone Wants An iPhone [Survey]

The Under 44 Crowd Prefers Smartphones, But Everyone Wants An iPhone [Survey]

Photo: drewbeck/flickr

According to a recent survey, if you own a smartphone in the U.S., you’re likely younger than 35 years old. By contrast, if you are older than 45, a basic feature phone is likely your preferred handset. Welcome to the Smartphone Generation Gap.

According to Nielsen researchers, 62 percent of adults age 25-34 who own a mobile phone use smartphones instead of “feature phones” that provide basic voice and texting features. That percentage drops to just over half – 54 percent – when the age range falls to 18-24 or increases to 35-44.

The dividing line is even bolder among middle-aged mobile users. In the 45-54-year-old range, just 40 percent of those surveyed by Nielsen say they own a smartphone.

The numbers likely mimic the split in most American homes, where younger people want the apps that a smartphone offers, while older people just want a telephone they can stick in their pocket and maybe send a few texts during the day. There have been some ham-handed attempts at marketing mobile handsets to older folks — remember the Jitterbug with the giant numberpad?

However, the split between smartphone usage based on age could be overcome by the iPhone, a simple-to-use device that doesn’t overwhelm the user. We may already be seeing the results of the iPhone’s introduction on the older generation. According to Nielsen, the 55-64 age group is the second-fastest group adopting smartphones. Apple is the top maker of smartphones in the U.S., claiming 28 percent of the share of domestic sales.

But this line between smartphone and feature phone could vanish over the next few years. As carriers turn to data plans to replace revenue from shrinking voice calls, smartphones are beginning to crowd out the simpler alternatives. Already 43 percent of all mobile phones sold in the U.S. are smartphones, says the survey.

  • FriarNurgle

    Woohoo, I’m not in the “middle aged” group yet.

  • Gbrown45

    “The has been some ham-handed attempts at marketing “

    Who writes this crap?

  • jnjnjn3

    “.., But Everyone Wants An iPhone.”

    And thats based on?

    J.

  • Jdsonice

    I think the number of smartphone users in the 44-54 range will continue to increase over the years. Why? Simple.  They have the money and they will be replacing their feature phones. And by and large the choice will be an iPhone. 

  • djgrahamj

    “We may already be seeing the results of the iPhone’s introduction.”

    Of course we are – most people had never heard of smartphones before the iPhone was released.

  • Dimitris aka XoLeRaS

    lemme guess, you don’t have on, so you think none lose wants one right? WRONG…

  • Len Williams

    I’m 59 and have been an avid Mac user since I was 39. I’ve had an iPhone since they first came out. A lot of us “old folks” were quite young during the computer revolution and have kept up with technology. This isn’t true of my parent’s generation who are now in their 80’s and not technologically savvy at all.

  • crateish

    I’m with the ‘kids’ on this.

  • Goldie20

    Well I won’t be buying one until the battery issue gets worked out.

  • LouC

    I am 70 and have a mac and iPod touch.  Until my ATT contract is up in Feb. 2012, I am not eligible to upgrade.  Would cost almost $800. to break present contract and purchase iPhone.  Something is wrong with this picture.  The price is more than one months SS check.  I am very interested but just cannot afford it….would also add to monthly tab for the extra plan required.  Money is what separates most of us from the newest and best…..not age.

  • ATC1948

    I am 62 and have had a Mac since 1984.  However, I can’t wait until the time is up on my android phone so I can get an iPhone.

  • Rvmama02

    I am 69 and have had a Mac over 20 years and have a MacBook Pro and my iphone 3GS I wouldn’t go anywhere without it.. love the GPS as my sense of direction is terrible… I always know where I am and how to get where I want to go… search for fast food, nearby cheap gas, anything as we travel in our mobile so I’m very happy.  Love my MAC’S 

About the author

Ed SutherlandEd Sutherland is a veteran technology journalist who first heard of Apple when they grew on trees, Yahoo was run out of a Stanford dorm and Google was an unknown upstart. Since then, Sutherland has covered the whole technology landscape, concentrating on tracking the trends and figuring out the finances of large (and small) technology companies.

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