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U.S. Smartphone and Mobile Internet Adoption


Baby boomers will eventually adopt smartphones and the Mobile Internet, and at the front-line of this movement are the younger boomers. But boomer mobile Internet adoption rates will be similar to their social media uptake -- that is, slower than the typical early-adopters.

According to the latest U.S. market assessment by eMarketer, boomers must see the benefits before they adopt smartphones and mobile Web applications (Apps).

Back in 1995, boomers were the pioneers of basic mobile phone usage, exceeding or equaling other age group's uptake of the devices, according to the Pew Research Center. Ownership rates have now grown to more than 85 percent among boomers, the majority using feature phones. But only 55 percent consider their mobile phone a necessity.

"Internet use will be the driving force behind boomers adoption of smartphones and the mobile Internet," said Lisa E. Phillips, eMarketer senior analyst. "They are avid Web users but no longer such early adopters."

Boomers made up 30.6 percent of all mobile phone users in August 2009, according to comScore's age breakout. However, they made up only 19.6 percent of all touch-screen users and 21.1 percent of smartphone users.

Younger boomers (ages 45 to 54) were more likely than older boomers to use touch-screens, smartphones and any mobile phone.

"Boomers are underrepresented among smartphone users but are becoming more interested in the devices," said Ms. Phillips. "Smartphones are now well established in the marketplace, which should help to convince the portions of the boomer cohort that are not early adopters."

The business applications of smartphones should appeal to the boomers who say they plan to continue working after retirement age. But, device and data service price is a factor for many.

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