68% Of Americans Will End Up Owning An iPhone [Analyst]

happy iPhone purchase Reuters

How many of you (or, more specifically, the general public) will be using an iPhone when the smartphone market is fully saturated? Analyst Horace Dediu is saying the answer will be 68 percent.

In a blog post published by Asymco, Dediu analyzes the smartphone-buying trends over recent years as a way of trying to predict where things will end up when the technology reaches saturation point (defined as 90 percent penetration). Here is, in part, what he has to say:

An alternative is to use the following formula derived from the linear interpolation of the two measured market shares. iPhone market share is y/(1+y) where y=0.21x and x = F/(1-F) and F is the expected market penetration of smartphones.

So if F = 91%, x = 10, y = 2.11 and therefore the iPhone market share = 68%.

We also know from the plot of the market that F = .91 is reached around February 2017. So we can suggest that at 90% penetration (approximately saturation) the iPhone will have 68% market share of users in the US. Forecasting the addressable market (US population aged older than 13) at about 266 million that implies 180 million US users of the iPhone by early 2017.

While Dediu doesn’t give us all of the data he used to come up with his numbers — and a lot can change in a few years (as Blackberry’s decline has shown) — owning the lion’s share of the U.S. smartphone market would obviously be great news for Apple. More interestingly, however, is the point that Forbes contributor Tim Worstall picks up regarding the story: the assumption that smartphone saturation will occur by the year 2017.

“[T]he remarkable thing about this is that the smartphone won’t even be ten years old by that point. Yes, the first real smartphone (there were attempts before this but nothing that really grasped peoples’ attention) was indeed the iPhone and it was released in 2007. But not until June: so if market saturation comes in Feb 2017 then market saturation will come in just under a decade.

And that is just amazing, stupendous in fact. It makes the smartphone by far the fastest adopted technology ever. The only one that comes anywhere close is the closely related cell phone. As an example it took at least 50 years for electrification to achieve full penetration of the market.”

It’s kudos to Apple either way, really.

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  • RF9

    It’s interesting that he doesn’t consider anything before the iPhone a smartphone. For example the Blackberry, Palm Treo, Sidekick, and many Windows Mobile phones we’re around for years. I would say BB was very quickly and widely adopted before iPhone. iPhone was designed to answer the design failures of its predecessors which were very capable.
    I understand the point he was trying to make but it makes me suspicios that his conclusion is based on his hard-on for the iPhone.
    I personally hope he’s right. I’d like to see iPhone with 2/3 market share but I think prices and marketing could sell more Android and put iPhone closer to 50-55%

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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