When Smartphones Cross the 50% Barrier

ComScore said last week that smartphones are now 25% of the total mobile handset base in the US. By contrast Nielsen reported that 29.7 percent of US mobile subscribers own smartphones.

Earlier this year Nielsen said that smartphone adoption was on track to cross the 50% threshold by Q3 of next year. Others basically agree.

My guess is that a year from now we'll see something in the high forty-percent range (say 48%). But very close to 50% if not 50%. This will be especially true if the pricing on smartphones continues to be as aggressive as it has recently been for the holidays. Best Buy for example is offering many models of smartphones (mostly Android) for free with two-year contracts.

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BlackBerry has been doing aggressive two-for-one pricing for a long time. These sorts of pricing moves will continue to drive adoption and Android is likely to be the chief beneficiary. Although Radio Shack has reduced the price of iPhone 4 by $50 through the holidays. 

When smartphones do reach 50% of the US mobile market it will be a very significant threshold both as a practical and psychological matter. No one will be able to ignore the behavior at that point or the query volumes coming from these devices. Mobile Internet usage will be primary for some people and perhaps certain demographic segments as a whole. For example, Opera recently found that "Gen Y" users were on the mobile Internet far more than its PC sibling: 

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The implications of this are pretty radical for both publishers and marketers. And remember 53% of mobile searches (on Bing) have a local intent.