Cell Phone Usage And Growth In The US
Looking back to the turn of the Millennium, an estimated 28 percent of Americans owned cell phones and, of this 28 percent, the majority of users were aged between 18 and 24 years – a demographic keen to ‘discover’ new technologies.
Today, it’s a different story altogether. More than 90 percent of American residents aged from early teens right through to the elderly now own a cell phone, and reports suggest that the Average Joe now spends more time on a cell (making and receiving calls, sending texts, utilising mobile data, and taking photos) than they do using a PC or watching TV. The uptake of cell phones across the country has been unprecedented, but why exactly has growth within the industry been so strong for so long?
America’s Fastest Growing Industry
Cell phone growth in the United States cannot be attributed to one factor in particular. Rather, it’s due to a number of reasons that make cell phones a necessity – an essential device that most people simply cannot function without. One such reason is the versatility of cell phones today compared with their more limited capabilities in the past. In fact, the ability to make and receive calls is now secondary, with the ability to check emails, take photographs, download games and apps, and use the web taking priority. A further reason is parental peace of mind. The average age for first ownership of a cell phone in the United States is now just 13 years old – while some may scoff at this, believing technology is contributing towards the obesity crisis in the west, there’s no denying that cell phones can be a sensible and safe option for young teens.
The Current State of the US Cell Phone Industry
Interestingly, cell phone uptake across the country has slowed significantly, but is this due to a simple case of mass penetration, or has the cell ship well and truly sailed? Truthfully, it can be attributed to a little bit of both. There’s no doubt that cell phone usage has slowed simply because uptake has hit its peak. Unlike the statistics for 2000 which showed that there were still huge gaps in ownership, today there are only negligible differences in demographics. For example, Pew Internet reports that 87 percent of high school graduates own a cell phone, compared to 93 percent of college graduates, while there’s a difference of just 9 percent in ownership between 18-29 and 30-49 year olds.
However, to really understand the slower growth, the whole picture needs to be examined, and that means looking at potential reasons why Americans may be actively choosing to avoid cell phone ownership. According to the same study by Pew Internet, 72 percent of cell users experience dropped calls on a regular or semi-regular basis, while 68 percent receive unwanted and unwarranted sales or marketing calls.
The Future of Cell Phones
Despite a slower uptake in recent years, the cell phone industry is continuing to thrive, and is expected to become stronger in the near future through increased flexibility and versatility, more attractive data plans, and a continuation of the adoption of technology by the older generations. However, the biggest changes within the cell phone industry are anticipated in developing countries, where penetration has not yet hit its peak.