Majority of mobile users over 55 now own a smartphone

The number has jumped 10% in the last year

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
April 22, 2014
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(Note: Nielsen report has been updated to reflect that number of Americans over the age of 55 applies only to mobile subscribers)

The general rule is that as soon as your parents starting using a piece of technology, it can no longer be considered hip. 

Sorry to all the people with kids: it's just the way of the world. Young people want to be ahead of the curve, differentiating themselves from their elders. Parents aren't cool (at least they shouldn't be) and so what they use can't be either.

This is exactly what happened to Facebook, with teens fleeing the site in droves, but could it happen with the smartphone as well? It seems unlikely, but there are some new pieces of technology coming out that they could flock to.

As of the first quarter of 2014, for the first time a majority of American mobile subscribers over the age of 55 now own a smartphone, according to the latest data collected by Nielsen, and released on Tuesday. And the number is growing fast: it is now at 51%, which is up 10% from the same quarter the year before.

This means that a majority of American mobile subscribers of all age groups now own smartphones. It has reached 70% of the entire adult population. And it looks like there is no going back either: 85% of recent acquirers picking smartphones when purchasing new handsets. 

So get ready to live in a world where every single person you know has a smartphone. The first iPhone only came out in 2007. Who would have thought the world could change so fast in only a few years.

Beyond that, the study also looked at the top operating systems and manufacturers. And the numbers come out the way you'd expect: because of its closed system Apple is the top manufacturers, but Google dominates the operating system because of how many more types of phone there are.

Android beat iOS by 10 percentage points, 52% to 42%. Together, the two operating systems cover 94% of all smartphones, leaving Windows Phone with 3% and BlackBerry with 2%.

Meanwhile because only Apple makes iOS phones, it has 42% of the manufacturers market share, leaving all the Android phone makers to battle it out for the rest. 

Samsung comes out on top, with 29%, the vast majority of which is from selling Android phones, with .3% coming from Windows Phones. LG, Motorola and HTC are all relatively close, with 7%, 6.8% and 6.1% respectively.

Poor BlackBerry, once the premiere smartphone maker, has fallen all the way down to 2%. 

So what does all this mean? Probably nothing more than what we already knew: that smartphones are the way of the future. And what will the next generation turn to in order to stay ahead of the curve? Google Glass? Smartwatches? Or perhaps something else entirely.

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