U.S. smartphone penetration jumped 12 percentage points last year, but that’s actually a deceleration from 2011, when it grew 15 percentage points.
As we’ve discussed before, penetration growth slows after adoption hits 50 per cent because remaining market segments tend to be older and less wealthy. Currently, U.S. smartphone penetration stands at 54 per cent, according to the latest comScore numbers.
As a result, the number of year-over-year net additional smartphone users is falling. Growth in the U.S. smartphone market peaked in the fourth quarter of 2011, when 35 million more Americans had a smartphone than a year prior. In the same quarter of 2012 that number was 28 million, and it will only continue to drop.
Photo: comScore, Nielsen
This slowdown has enormous ramifications for the mobile ecosystem. Handset manufacturers, for example, will need to find new markets as U.S. smartphone sales cool. U.S.-focused app developers, meanwhile, will need to refocus on monetization as audience growth won’t be as explosive as it once was.
Thus, while the “blue ocean” of non-smartphone owners may still look enormous, the U.S. smartphone story is farther along than you think.
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