Half of All Americans to Use Smartphones by End of 2011

In my last weekly column at WindowsRoundup.com, I discussed how HP Palm have some time to take advantage of the nascent nature of the smartphone market and its increasing fragmentation. I based this on the statistic of around 20% of Americans owning a smartphone today.

It looks like I was just a bit off—in fact, according to data generated by pollster Nielson and reported by Asymco, the percentage is a little higher at 29.7%, and that it’s expected to rise to 50% by the end of 2011:

The chart on the left shows the historic penetration of smartphones since mid-2009 based on Nielsen’s reports. The chart on the right is my forecast. This is an update from the last quarter’s chart here. My forecast was fairly accurate with respect to platform shares in the last quarter so I’ve had to make only small adjustments and extended the forecast one quarter further out. [1]

If my forecast is correct, smartphones will make up 50% of all phones in use by the end of 2011. That’s up from nearly 30% today and 18% a year ago.

One in three of all phones in use will be either iOS or Android. That adds up to about 80 million users; up from 35 million today. Overall, 120 million Americans will be using smartphones.

I’m not sure about the math in that last paragraph—one-third of 120 million running iOS or Android sounds more like 40 million than 80 million, but the overall number is significant. HP Palm will be competing for a very large market, and this is just in the US. And of course 50% is still just half of all Americans, meaning that the market will continue to grow in 2012 and beyond. And that doesn’t even consider today’s smartphone users looking to switch to new devices as their contracts run out.

I stand by my position that HP Palm has plenty of room for maneuvering. Things will start getting tighter by the end of 2011, but I’m sure HP knows this. As has been said any number of times in the past, 2011 should be interesting for webOS enthusiasts.

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