iPhone Defines the New Leisure Class

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Via Flickr

If you see someone whipping out an iPhone at the next table or across the room at your next social gathering, chances are you’re looking at a member of the modern leisure class. When the iPhone made its debut last summer, people camped out in front of Apple stores across the United States to be among the first to experience Apple’s groundbreaking communication device. When Apple updated the phone and released its next gen gadget in more than 20 countries last Friday, again Apple retail stores and cellular provider outlets around the world received hordes of customers clamoring for the new phone — and Apple sold a paper million of them in three days.

Five days into the launch, all models of the phone were sold out in 21 states in the US and people were still lined up, waiting upwards of three hours to buy a phone in markets where they were still available. Steve Jobs called public reception of the new iPhone “stunning.”

Who are these people? A technology analyst for Piper Jaffray, Gene Munster  put out a report this week estimating numbers and interests of the early adopters of iPhone 3G based on a survey done with 280 people waiting in line to buy the phone in New York. Earlier this year, another trends analyst, M Metrics published a report saying iPhone users tend to do more entertaining things on their devices such as watch video and visit social networks than those who own other smartphones. AdMob similarly confirmed that, at the time, iPhone users were still a relatively small part of the overall mobile phone market in the US, though, according to Munster’s research the percentage of iPhone users is growing.

A look at what’s popular on Apple’s iTunes AppStore sheds more light on the pursuits of iPhone users: every single one of the top ten free and paid applications downloaded from the AppStore in its first week in business — more than 10 million, according to Apple — is a game or entertainment/social networking application. That is, except for the free Weather Bug coming in at #8, which, I’ll surmise people may be looking to for confirmation of their plan to spend the day at the beach or somewhere equally leisurely.

Apple has big plans to storm the beachead of Microsoft’s hold on the Enterprise market and sure enough, the Mac moved past Acer into 3rd place among PC makers in the US market during the 2nd quarter of this year. But Apple’s share of the desktop market remains below 10% and the iPhone’s initial integration efforts with Exchange have run into significant headwinds at the Enterprise level.

For now, it seems pretty obvious the iPhone is a darling of those with time to spare.

26 responses to “iPhone Defines the New Leisure Class”

  1. lrd says:

    Dude,

    Haven’t you heard- the American economy is in a tailspin that only bringing oil back down to $1.50 per gallon is going to save. And you know the greedy Wall Street commodities traders don’t give a S*it about anyone but themselves. Apple is much better off focusing on the pro-sumer and pro-sumer businesses than corporate America right now.

  2. Erica says:

    So being highly connected/networked and wanting to be able to manage those connections easily while not sitting at a computer, plus enjoying having a few games on your phone, signifies being in the leisure class? I check the weather nearly every night to make sure I’m not caught unprepared during my commute. So of course I want a weather app on my phone if I can get one.

    Most of my job takes place online, even though I usually do my work in an office setting. There are times when it’s been deeply inconvenient not to be able to get to a real web page while otherwise engaged in my normal off-duty life. An iPhone changes that in a way most other smartphones don’t. It means not having to carry around a laptop in case there’s an emergency.

    Honestly, the real trend I see here is that people don’t need lots of fancy apps to be able to use their iPhones for work as well as for play. For those of us whose jobs are based on the internet, access to web-based services etc. is all we really need.

  3. Neil Anderson says:

    Soon to have double-digit market share! :)

  4. Mikey Wally says:

    Only one of those people in the picture is using an iPhone.

  5. lonbud says:

    @Erica – points well taken. I didn’t intend to suggest there is anything inherently frivolous about the iPhone itself. In fact I personally believe it’s as paradigm-changing a device as Apple, perhaps anyone, has produced. The great preponderance of early adopters, however, would appear to be people with lots of time on their hands and who are interested in using the phone largely for amusement and entertainment.

  6. zato says:

    Erica wrote: “So being highly connected/networked and wanting to be able to manage those connections easily while not sitting at a computer, plus enjoying having a few games on your phone, signifies being in the leisure class?”

    Erica, this is an anti-Mac, Microsoft propaganda site. They will say anything they think will kill sales of Apple products. Discrediting those who buy the products is standard practice.

  7. Sachin says:

    the iPhone is a darling of those with time to spare….NO NO NO it is a darling of ALL Gadget Lovers

  8. imajoebob says:

    When I got my iPod back in ’03, I felt special being one of the very few people walking around London with my trademark white earbuds. I might see 1 or 2 people a day with one. The few who had them would invariably smile or nod when they saw another iPod owner. There was nothing else like the iPod. We were ahead of the game. We were cool.

    But the iPhone is different. It may be the best device in it’s class, and maybe in a class by itself. But it’s really just an agglomeration of existing devices. So your phone is cooler than mine. So what? It still connects to the same networks and people. Your iPod doesn’t hold any more tunes than my older nano. Yes, you can surf the web anywhere, but I can always get a 3G card for my notebook. And my £20 pay-as-you-go el cheapo phone from Selfridges was doing 3G way back in 2003. With a camera that could do video calls!

    The iPod was a friendly device admired and coveted by almost everyone. By 2005 you couldn’t find anybody without white earbuds. The iPhone is almost aggressive, and their owners try to look like it’s just any phone, while making sure everyone around knows exactly what they have. The iPod had “cool” appeal; the iPhone has snob appeal. And the owners less interested in the snobbery grew up as “Tickle Me Elmo” kids. No matter the cost, effort, or utility, they’re entitled to and have to have the latest and greatest.

    The iPhone is the modern day equivalent of those 8 pound bricks that the Barbarians At The Gate used 20 years ago. Nobody liked those guys back then, and iPhone owners are starting to rub people the same way.

    Unlike my iPod, this is one curve I plan to trail.

  9. Ken says:

    In NY we wait ON line, not in line. :-p

  10. lonbud says:

    @Ken – I know. My NY friends are so out of line sometimes… then they go offline on me and I can’t give ’em grief about it.

  11. Andrew DK says:

    @ zato3 …Why aren’t you wearing your helmet in here?

  12. Camperton says:

    I love reductive reasoning like this. The writer of the story sounds like one of those angry Blackberry users who keeps calling the iphone a toy. I personally make it a habit to judge people by the clothes they wear, the cars they drive and of course their hair style. Being able to judge people by their phone or mp3 player is just the cherry on top.

  13. Camperton says:

    As far as people with iphones having more fun, that’s a given because it’s actually fun to do fun stuff on an iphone. I never had fun on my blackberry because it doesn’t lend itself to that. What I like about the iphone is it lends itself to both fun and productivity.