America Smartens Up: Smartphones Now Officially King of Mobile World Credit: Smartphone Image via Shutterstock

Feature phones are no longer a featured attraction. For those who needed confirmation, new research by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that since May 2011, the number of Americans who own smartphones increased 11 percent, making smartphones officially more popular in the United States than traditional feature phones. This growth was driven by ownership increases that took place in every major demographic group polled by Pew.

"Smartphones are part of the normal adoption process," Aaron Smith, senior research specialist at the Pew Internet Project told BusinessNewsDaily. "Generally you have your early adopters first. Then friends and family members see this technology in action and it becomes a little less scary, since they see that it has real-world benefits which they can take advantage of. This is part of that standard adoption curve."

Among men and women of all ages, incomes, ethnicities, geographic locations and education levels smartphone ownership increased since last May. Overall, 49 percent of men own smartphones, compared with 44 percent of women. Just over 70 percent of people between the ages of 25 and 34 own smartphones. The most notable increases in ownership came among:

  • 18- to 24-year-olds,who jumped 18 percent to reach an ownership rate of 67 percent.
  • 45- to 54-year-olds,who jumped 16 percent to reach an ownership rate of 44 percent.
  • Households making less than $30,000,which jumped 12 percent to reach an ownership rate of 34 percent.
  • Rural households,which jumped 13 percent to reach an ownership rate of 34 percent.

Those increases mean that 46 percent of the American population now owns a smartphone, besting the 41 percent who own basic feature phones. Overall, 88 percent of the American population owns a cellphone. 

"Anyone who has tried to purchase a phone or gone to a phone store is aware that it is difficult to purchase an old-school feature phone at this point," said Smith. "Smartphones, in the cellphone category, are the wave of the future. To say we are all going to have one of these right away is overstating the case. Certainly the trend is apparent in regards to the overall cellphone market."

The study also showed that that Android devices remained king of the smartphone hill, claiming 20 percent of mobile phone users and narrowly beating out the 19 percent of mobile phone users with an iPhone. Android ownership increased 5 percent while iPhone ownership nearly doubled since the last poll. Blackberry ownership dropped from 10 percent in May 2011 to 6 percent in the recent poll. Mobile phone users with a Windows phone remained at 2 percent while Palm users remained at 1 percent.

According to Smith, this growth can be attributed to the numerous opportunities that smartphones present to their users.  

[Not Tonight Honey, I'm on My Smartphone]

"Smartphone owners are very different from regular cellphone owners," said Smith. "They have the ability to do a lot more things. They have very different attitudes and behaviors toward their phones. They are more attached to their phones and they use them for different things. They have more trouble when they don’t have their phones with them then other phone owners do. This all comes down to the fact that smartphones open a whole world of information and activities and ways to interact with the world that people didn’t have in the pre-cell phone era."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily staff writer David Mielach at Dmielach@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @D_M89.