M:Metrics iPhone survey

Today, research firm M:Metrics released a January survey of 10,000 adults.  The survey’s findings are somewhat dramatic and the survey’s title, “iPhone Hype Holds Up” is apt.

The most dramatic findings of the report are that 84.8% of users go online and that 30.9% use their iPhone to watch mobile TV and/or video.  However, the most interesting nugget of information is that nearly 50% of iPhone users used their iPhone to access a social networking site or blog.  This compares to 19.4% of smartphone users who do the same.  20% of those iPhone users were going to Facebook (compared to 2% of smartphone users).  Interestingly, Facebook was one of the first web properties to customize its interface for the iPhone ans has been featured in iPhone commercials.

Since the official demographics of iPhone users are similar to those of smartphone users (i.e. ale, aged 25-34, earn more that $100,000 and have a college degree), a question arises — why are iPhone users so much more likely to use the internet?

There are several potential answers: 1. all iPhone plans come with unlimited internet use.  Once you have it, you begin to use it.  As I can attest to from experience, the internet on your phone might not be something you are willing to pay for up front.  However, once you taste its sweet nectar, you can’t go back to a life without it.  Unfortunately, I do not believe that this answer fully explains the disparities discussed above.  The fact is that many smartphone users (although not 100% like the iPhone) have free internet included in their plan.

A second potential answer is that iPhone users are not as similar a demographic as M:Metrics would have you believe.  On the surface, they are similar (i.e. age, education and earning power).  However, iPhone users may differ on one key component — net/tech savvy.  The current crop of iPhone users include many early adopters.  These are the people who buy the “cool” new product. They are the people who already live the digital lifestyle (and find it fun). They spend a large portion of their day online; the iPhone only makes it that much easier to stay connected.  The average smartphone user, on the other hand, may be more business focused, less interested in Facebook, and less likely to spend time going online with their phone because they are already receiving their email through a push mechanism.   I am making broad assertions but their are greater differences between the iPhone and smartphone group than initially shown.

A third option is that the iPhone is simply a much better internet device than any smartphone before it.  I have used and played with many smartphones and I can compare them to my iPod Touch (same internet surfing experience, albeit slightly faster over wifi, as the iPhone).  The iPhone is a better internet device.  It was designed with the internet in mind.  A finger is a better navigation device than a blackberry ball, a scrollwheel, or any other interface device (except for a mouse, which needs a computer).  The iPhone makes it easy and fun to go online.  It is a harbringer of things to come and I ardently hope for some strong competition.

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