The Nielsen Company has reported that as of December 2010, 31 percent of all mobile users in the United States owned smart phones, which the firm defines as “cellphones with app-based, Web-enabled operating systems.” Specifically, the study revealed that smart phone penetration is highest among U.S. ethnic and racial minorities. Both Asian/Pacific Islanders and Hispanics boast 45 percent smart phone ownership, while 33 percent of African Americans own smart phones. That compares with 27 percent of whites who report owning a smart phone.
The report also showed that current adoption of smart phones is also accelerated in minority markets: Although 42 percent of whites who purchased a mobile phone in the last six months chose a smart phone, that compares with 60 percent of Asian/Pacific Islanders, 56 percent of Hispanics and 44 percent of African Americans.
Among smart phone operating systems, the report reveals a three-way tie among Blackberry RIM, Apple iOS and Google’s Android. Although BlackBerry was the pioneer in the smart phone market, Apple’s iOS proved to be the true game changer. The recently introduced Android operating system is on a fast-track growth path, having recently surpassed Apple iOS ownership in the United States, and Nielsen’s findings support that: 43 percent of recent smart phone buyers chose an Android device, 26 percent chose an Apple device and 20 percent chose BlackBerry RIM. Asian/Pacific Islanders favor the Apple iOS: 36 percent of smart phone owners in this group own iPhones. Among African Americans, 31 percent favor RIM BlackBerry.