Nielsen’s Smartphone Usage by Age Groups Study: Intriguing Age Group Differences for BlackBerry and Windows Phone

By Todd Ogasawara 

Nielsen released another of their fascinating reports focused on the mobile world. The report focuses on smartphone use by age categories. And, there are a couple of interesting twists revealed by their data. Overall, 43% of phone owning adults have a smartphone. While it is probably not a surprise to most casual observers that the smartphone penetration rate for mobile phone owning young adults (ages 25-34) is 62%, it may surprise you to learn that the second fastest growing smartphone owning group are people in the 45 to 50 year category. Smartphone ownership by this cohort grew by 5% in just a single quarter.

Smartphone mobile platform penetration reflects numbers we have seen from other sources. Android and iOS (iPhone) lead with 43% and 28% shares, respectively. RIM BlackBerry has an 18% share. And, the combined Windows Mobile and Windows Phone (labeled as Windows Mobile in Nielsen’s pie chart) is at 7% share. What might be considered somewhat surprising, however, are smartphone platform penetration within age groups. Although this was not published in the blog item (see below), Nielsen was kind enough to provide the summary information to me after requesting it. I should note that Nielsen cautioned me that while there numerical differnces by platform between age groups, some of these differences may not be statistically significant. That said, there are a few interesting differences that may be significant.

BlackBerry share is markedly different when comparing younger adults (18-34) to older adults (35 and older). 12% of the those in the 18-24 group use a BlackBerry. The share for the 25-34 age group is 15%. BlackBerry’s share of phone using adults rises with age. 20% of those in the 34-44 and 55-64 ages groups are BlackBerry users. 24% of those in the 45-54 age group use BlackBerry phones. This may be important for RIM to be aware of as they try to appeal to a consumer audience in addition to their traditional business customers.

The biggest surprise to me was the Windows Mobile/Windows Phone penetration in various age groups. The supergroup ranging from 18 to 64 years old showed numbers similar to the overall population with penetration ranging from 6 to 8% (7% is the overall Windows Mobile/Windows Phone penetration). However, 10% of those 65 or older are Windows Mobile/Windows Phone users. And, a surprising 19% of teens (13-17) reportedly use Windows Mobile or Windows Phone smartphones.

You can find Nielsen’s summary article linked below.

Generation App: 62% of Mobile Users 25-34 own Smartphones