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More Than Half of Mobile Subscribers Over 55 Now Own a Smartphone

Nielsen says its latest study marked the first time a majority of older Americans have had a smartphone.


Smartphones aren’t just for kids (and geeks) anymore.

A new Nielsen study found that more than half of U.S. mobile subscribers over the age of 55 now own smartphones, marking the first time a majority of subscribers of all age groups have these devices.

Smartphones are growing more ubiquitous by the minute: Seven out of 10 mobile subscribers in the U.S. now own one of these devices, Nielsen found. And the vast majority of consumers shopping to replace their mobile phones — 85 percent, to be precise — are choosing smartphones over other, less sexy handsets.

Nielsen’s study also found the usual results on market share: Most smartphones in the U.S. run on Google’s Android software, with more than half of these made by Samsung. Apple remains the largest individual smartphone manufacturer, with its devices used by 42 percent of American smartphone owners.

In the battle for a third ecosystem, Nokia’s market share doubled in the past year, to two percent of the market — roughly equal to that of beleaguered BlackBerry, according to Nielsen. Windows Phone, though, has taken a narrow lead over BlackBerry.

Correction: This post has been modified to note that half of mobile subscribers over the age of 55, but not the entire U.S. population, now own smartphones — marking the first time smartphone penetration has exceeded 50 percent for subscribers of all age groups. Nielsen has issued a correction, saying that it failed to specify that its data pertained only to U.S. mobile subscribers, not all Americans.

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