Mobile market overview

Newton was only half right: Objects in motion tend to stay in motion, but objects at rest are increasingly becoming mobile. That’s the case, at least, when it comes to the world of today’s mobile consumer.

According to exclusive research from Experian Simmons, fully 29% of cell phone owners today believe that their cell phone will be the primary device for their entertainment needs, in the future. Furthermore, a recent report by J.P. Morgan estimates that U.S. mobile ad spending will nearly double in 2011 to $1.2 billion. Screen size and limitations on creative, the report says, present obstacles to mobile advertisers. These obstacles and opportunities make it more important than ever for marketers to understand the behaviors and mindset of the mobile consumer.

In this first in a series of blog posts, we will explore some key findings presented in the 2011 Mobile Consumer Report recently published recently by Experian Simmons. Media outlets have started to take note, citing the report in articles here and here. Come back to this blog frequently for further updates, or download the full report today.

Mobile Market Overview

Cell phone ownership among American adults stands at 91%, up from 72% in 2006. The vast majority of teens, too, have joined the mobile revolution, with 74% of those ages 12 to 17 porting a portable phone, up from 59% in 2006. Even tots are getting into the act, with a reported 22% of kids ages 6 to 11 owning a cell phone today. Among adults ages 22 to 24, the idea of not owning a cell is virtually unheard of, with an astounding 98% of consumers in this bracket reporting personally owning a cell phone. While cell ownership among adults age 65+ is the lowest of any adult segment, it is the fastest growing, having increased a relative 52% between 2006 and 2010. Despite the rise in youth owning cell phones, 90% of all mobile phone owners in the U.S. are adults, a rate unchanged since 2008.

Percent of Americans that own a cell phone, by age 

Percent of Americans that own a cell phone

Source: Experian Simmons

Mobile Service Providers

cell phone carriesVerizon maintains its position as America’s number one cell phone service provider, with 32% of all adult mobile phone owners saying they are Verizon subscribers as of May 23, 2011. AT&T also has a sizable share of the market, with 28% of mobile phone owners subscribing to AT&T for cell service. Battling for third place are Sprint and T-Mobile, which respectively claim just 11% and 10% of the mobile market. Smaller, often regional, providers may individually have fewer subscribers, but combined, claim an impressive 22% of the total cellular market.

Verizon and AT&T will almost certainly continue to dominate the market, especially given the fact that cell phone subscribers are increasingly staying with their provider for an extended period of time. As of May 23, 2011, the average cell phone subscriber had been with their provider for 3 years and 2 months, up from 2 years and 11 months observed at the beginning of 2008. Furthermore, 59% of cell phone subscribers say they’ve been with their current provider for at least 4 years, up from 46% who reported the same in early 2008.

59% of cell phone subscribers say they’ve been with their current provider for at least 4 years

Service Providers’ Share of Cell Phone Subscribers
Mobile Service Providers' share of cell phone subscribers

Source: Experian Simmons

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