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Summary:

As a mobile device, the iPhone crosses several different user groups. From business users to media junkies, a wide range of people use the iPhone in a variety of different ways. The App Store is fueling this variation even further on account of the huge array […]

As a mobile device, the iPhone crosses several different user groups. From business users to media junkies, a wide range of people use the iPhone in a variety of different ways. The App Store is fueling this variation even further on account of the huge array of different applications available.

A few pieces of research have been conducted that give an interesting glimpse into the profile of iPhone users, and the main activities they choose to perform with their device. This post will summarize a few different results and draw some interesting comparisons between the uses of an iPhone compared to other mobile phones.

Compete.com Survey

Compete.com has recently gathered a collection of data surrounding the use of the iPhone. They found that:

  • iPhone owners are twice as likely as other Smartphone owners to be comfortable with advertising within the applications on their device.
  • 33 percent of iPhone owners use maps and GPS more than ten times a month, compared to 13 percent of Smartphone owners.
  • Almost twice as many iPhone owners than Smartphone users complete at least one financial transaction on their mobile device each month.
  • 93 percent of iPhone owners have added an application versus only 66 percent of Smartphone owners.

The statistics relating to increased map usage are most likely due to the implementation of Google Maps software — it’s slick, easy to use and very intuitive. The other statistics are more interesting, and worth considering a little further.

The fact that 93 percent of owners have added an application is a very impressive figure. Considering the App Store has been open for only a few months, such a high awareness and take-up rate is excellent. It comes down to a combination of a very successful marketing campaign from Apple, coupled with a system that is incredibly easy to use. Applications are easy to find, often inexpensive, and as evidenced by the number of users downloading them, add real value to the iPhone.

The statistic relating to financial transactions comes as an initial surprise — why would users feel safer conducting online banking on their iPhone? I think this is one advantage that comes from a mobile browser based on a desktop counterpart. Apple users who surf with Safari on their Mac are likely to instinctively trust the security and reliability of the mobile version — feeling comfortable accessing their finances online.

Finally, the issue of advertising is an interesting one. This could be down either to the type of user (corporate Blackberry users may recoil quicker at the idea of advertising compared to media-savvy, younger consumers), or the fact that Mac users are more familiar with the concept from ad-supported desktop software (e.g. Twitteriffic). I suspect the former is likely to be the case, with iPhone users preferring to accept a free, ad-supported application rather than paying for it directly.

Rubicon Consulting Research

A recent survey entitled ‘The Apple iPhone: Successes and Challenges for the Mobile Industry’ looked at the profile of iPhone users. They found that:

  • The iPhone user base consists mainly of young early adopters about three quarters of whom are previous Apple customers.
  • 50 percent of iPhone users are under thirty, and 15 percent are students.
  • Half of the iPhone users replaced conventional mobile phones (commonly the Motorola Razr) while 40 percent replaced other smartphones (such as Blackberrys and Windows Mobile devices).
  • Email is the most commonly used feature — 70 percent of users check email on the iPhone at least once a day
  • 60 percent of users browse the internet at least once per day
  • Three quarters of users do more web surfing on the iPhone than on their previous device.

It should be noted that this survey was conducted just prior to the introduction of the iPhone 3G — so some figures may have changed since then. However, the general trends and conclusions are still likely to be valid.

The fact that iPhone users are young and ‘tech savvy’ does not come as a particular surprise. Nor does the concept that previous Apple customers are more likely to buy an iPhone (especially as an Apple customer is anyone who has bought an iPod — over 163 million have been sold).

The split of switchers from both conventional and smart phone users is interesting. It shows clearly that the iPhone has succeeded in targeting both types of user well, catering equally to business users requiring email and web capabilities as well as those more interested in photos, videos and music. This is no mean feat, showing that the latest Exchange features are beginning to bring the iPhone into an enterprise setting.

The Typical iPhone User

Essentially, none of these statistics are particularly startling, though they do go a long way towards providing definite proof for ideas we have taken for granted (i.e. that the well implemented Mobile Safari browser will stimulate greater use of mobile internet).

Would you say that your iPhone usage echoes the findings of the above surveys, or do some of the statistics come as a surprise?

  1. “It should be noted that this survey was conducted just prior to the introduction of the iPhone 3G — so some figures may have changed since then.”

    Umm yeah, because $400+ vs. $199 is a huge difference that can bring in folks from just about every demographic.

    Either way, not much surprises here in this study. I’m reading each finding, nodding my head “yep, that’s me…. yep, that’s me…” :)

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  2. I am quite skeptical of the ad supported software. I throw out any app immediately if it has ads. Especially if their is another similar app.

    Mac users have been generally kept away from ads by Apple. No ads on Apple website. No ads on iTunes. No stickers on Apple computers.

    Nope. Don’t believe it. If anything, these are the switchers answering this way.

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  3. [...] | The Apple Blog Enviar [...]

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  4. [...] it. A Compete.com survey tells us more or less what we already anticipated about the iPhone users. Check out The Apple Blog for more, and a nifty little illustration as [...]

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  5. If this survey was conducted before the 3G was launched then surely all those who’d installed apps were doing so on a jailbroken device.

    @Brock: Because you delete anything with apps you don’t believe the survey results? That’s just idiotic.

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  6. The flaw I see with the idea that iPhone users are more comfortable with ads is the idea that they are assumed to be Mac users.

    Many iPhone users use Windows. It’s the use of search engines and social media that makes us more comfortable with ads, I believe.

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  7. [...] is a nice profile of the typical iPhone owner at The Apple Blog – check it out for stats and usage. Posted by rdefranco | in Mobile Content [...]

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  8. i’ve been browsing sites on statistics about iphone users, and i still can’t find one of the more relevant (imho) statistics – what percentage of iphone users have a mac as their home computer VS. the percentage that run windows/linux/other.

    i think this is a very relevant topic because if the iphone developer’s kit. i run windows, and can’t develop apps for the iphone because of that. *most* serious, hardcore programmers run linux or windows. by ignoring this demographic, apple seems to be taking the stance of, “we’ll have a lot of apps for the iphone, but most will be cute, useless crap.” which, after installing about 50 apps, turns out to be the case.

    cough up the missing statistic, and maybe we’ll see an sdk available for people who buy computers for coding, rather than people who buy computers because of better graphics.

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  9. @dnynumberone: While I agree that the stats on percentage of iphone users with a Mac would be somewhat interesting, I can’t follow that leap in your logic. Just like other phones, the majority of mobile phone users won’t be programmers, whether they own a Mac or PC or nothing at all. Perhaps the stat you want is percentage of programmers that own both iPhone and Mac vs iPhone and PC? Good luck finding that one though …

    I agree that Macs have been stigmatized as the “creative persons” computer, while the real work is done by geeks running linux. (imho) You CAN be a serious, hardcore programmer and still use a Mac (although granted this is not the majority). I’ve had both myself, and I’ve found unless you are developing something specific to an OS it doesn’t make much of a difference. I HAVE built some “serious, hardcore” apps – apps for large telcos for example, with millions of users and real-time requirements. This can be done on either platform, since you are writing apps that will be deployed to serious server hardware (not Macs or PCs).

    I think what really inhibits the development of serious apps on an iPhone is a couple factors. The first are a couple limitations of the iPhone itself, most notably that it can’t run a background process. Second, the majority of large companies haven’t figured out yet that they could really benefit from offering useful iPhone apps to their customers. Once this happens, I *hope* we’ll see less “cute, useless crap” and more apps that provide real user value.

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  10. [...] A Rubicon survey entitled ‘The Apple iPhone: Successes and Challenges for the Mobile Industry’ l…. They found that: [...]

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