Cell Phones Approach Total Penetration Globally, With Smartphones Moving Toward Market Dominance

More Than a Quarter Now Own Multiple Cell Phones, with Smartphones Dominant and iPhones the Preferred Brand, according to a New SSI Study

Nov 15, 2011, 10:00 ET from SSI

SHELTON, Conn., Nov. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- An overwhelming 95% of people around the world now own cell phones, according to a new nine-country study by SSI.  Hong Kong (99%), China (98%) and Sweden (98%) have the highest cell phone ownership rates, while the US (89%) has the lowest.  Findings show that, among cell phone owners, 42% currently have smartphones—and 58% are planning to make their next cell phone a smartphone.  

The highest rates of smartphone ownership are in China (68%) and Hong Kong (57%), while Japan (16%) and Sweden (33%) fall at the opposite end of the spectrum.  Those countries that are lagging are likely to catch up soon, however, with almost half of respondents in Japan and Sweden intending to make their next cell phone a smartphone.

Of those planning to buy smartphones, Apple iPhones are the preferred brand.  If money were no object, almost a third of respondents globally say they would prefer an Apple iPhone.  Samsung (12%), Nokia (10%), Sony Ericsson (8%) and BlackBerry (7%) round out the top-5 preferred brands.

"Soaring cell phone ownership has a significant impact on researchers doing telephone studies," says Jessica Smith, Vice President, Offline Services for SSI.  "Adding to the complexity is the rise of cell phone only households—almost a third now in the US—as well as the 28% of consumers globally with multiple cell phones.  Researchers who omit cell phones from their samples will find critical gaps in coverage—particularly among younger, ethnic and lower income households.  To ensure accuracy, researchers need to work with partners who can effectively integrate cell phone and landline access."

The Vast Majority Have Clocks, Cameras, Calendars, Calculators, Text Messaging, Internet and More on Their Phones—But Do They Use Them?

Phones are clearly not just phones anymore.  Globally, 86% of respondents have clocks on their phones... 84% have still cameras, calendars and calculators... 81% have text messaging... and 75% have Internet capabilities and games.  

Clocks are the most used feature, with 43% globally saying they use their phone clocks almost all the time and another 40% reporting they use them very or quite often.  Consumers also find value in text messaging, with 37% saying they use this feature almost all the time and 41% reporting they use it very or quite often.  Internet capability is the third most popular feature, used almost all the time by 27% of respondents and very or quite often by 31%.  

Video cameras and radios are the least valued features, with only 7% of respondents saying they use these capabilities almost all the time.  Respondents cite the same top-three reasons for not taking advantage of the video cameras and radios on their phone—"I have no use for this functionality," "I never got around to it" and "I do the same thing with another device."

Despite Their Popularity, Smartphones Can Be Frustrating

Although they are popular, smartphones also can be frustrating.  Thirty-seven percent of owners say battery life is very or extremely frustrating.  Almost a quarter report that web sites not optimized for smartphones are very or extremely frustrating.  In addition, 19% are very or extremely frustrated by unexpected changes in screen orientation and onscreen keyboards too small for their fingers.

4,500 Consumers in 9 Countries Shared Their Feedback

SSI's findings are based on a study of 4500+ adults on its online panels.  Countries covered include the US, UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, China, Hong Kong and Sweden.  SSI offers extensive worldwide reach to support survey research through SSI Dynamix™, its dynamic sampling platform that links to its own online panels, as well as online communities, social media, affiliate partners and more.

About SSI...

Bringing together Survey Sampling International and Opinionology, SSI (www.surveysampling.com) is the premier global provider of world-leading sampling, data collection and data analytic solutions for survey research.  SSI reaches respondents in 72 countries via Internet, telephone, mobile/wireless and mixed access offerings. Value-add services include questionnaire design consultation, programming and hosting, data processing and real-time reporting. SSI serves more than 2,000 clients, including the top-50 research organizations. With 50 + years of combined experience, SSI has 30 offices around the world.