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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Smartphone Use and Ownership

Smartphones present opportunities for small businesses as both customers and providers of services.

In terms of running businesses, there are efficiencies and savings to be had. For example, a recent Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council study, "Saving Time and Money with Mobile Apps," found that small business owners who use mobile apps estimate that they personally save an average of 5.6 hours weekly, with 75 percent of small businesses using mobile apps reporting employee time savings of 11.33 hours on average per week. According to the study, that means that small business owners are saving 372.8 million hours of their own time, and 725.3 million employee hours annually.

A new poll out on July 10 from the Pew Research Center provided additional information of value to the business community regarding smartphone usage. Consider the following key findings from the Pew survey:

• 83 percent of U.S. adults have some kind of cell phone, with 42 percent of those saying they have a smartphone. That translates into 35 percent of adults owning smartphones.

• 87 percent of smartphone users access the Internet and email with their smartphones, including 68 percent who do so on a daily basis.

That's a huge market - and one that continues to grow.

As for the demographic breakdown, the general trends, while not surprising, are interesting. For example:

• In terms of gender, 39 percent of males and 31 percent of females own a smartphone.

• Broken down by age groups, ownership percentages are: 52 percent of those between 18 and 29, 45 percent of those between 30 and 49, 24 percent between 50 and 64, and 11 percent of those 65 and older.

• As for household income, 59 percent of household incomes of $75,000 or more own smartphones, 38 percent between $50,000 and $74,999, 40 percent from $30,000 and $49,999, and 22 percent of those with less than $30,000.

• In terms of education, 48 percent of those with at least a college degree own smartphones, 38 percent of those with some college, 27 percent of high school graduates, and 18 percent of those with no high school diploma.

• And finally, 38 percent of both urban and suburban residents own smartphones, compared to 21 percent of rural residents.

As long as the government keeps its nose out of trying to dictate how the telecommunications market changes and develops, then every reason exists to believe that the smartphone marketplace will continue to grow and innovate, offering opportunities to entrepreneurs and small businesses.


Raymond J. Keating serves as chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.

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