The most important thing about the iPhone isn’t the sleek design, the touchscreen, iTunes integration, or any other single feature. It’s the way that people use the device. Specifically, it’s that people actually use it to do stuff besides making phone calls. Examples:
- Almost 85% of iPhone owners browse the Web on their phones, versus 58% of the U.S. smartphone market and 13.1% of the overall U.S. mobile market, according to mobile research firm M:Metrics.
- Some 31% of iPhone owners watch mobile TV or video, like Google’s (GOOG) built-in YouTube software, compared to 4.6% of the overall market.
- About 20% of iPhone owners access Facebook, versus 1.5% of the overall market.
- And 74% of iPhone owners listened to music on their phones, compared to 28% of the smartphone market and 6.7% of the overall market.
Why does it matter? Because as people spend less money on plain-vanilla mobile phone calls, carriers are hoping to grow by selling them data services like mobile Web access, mobile video services, music, etc. (And later, by selling ads .) So anything that gets consumers to do more with their phones is good news for carriers — and whichever gadget maker can supply it.
So far, carriers say that smartphones — like Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone and RIM’S (RIMM) BlackBerries, which make it easier the use email, browse the Web, etc. — are boosting sales: During AT&T’s (T) Q4 earnings call, CFO Rick Lindner said smartphone subscribers spend about twice as much per month on service as their average subscriber.
One question: Will iPhone Web/video usage stay so high once the novelty of the new phone wears off? SAI iPhone owners: Are you still using the YouTube app/Safari browser as much as you did when you first got your phone?