Are You Spending More on Smartphone Hardware or Software?

Quick: How much did you spend on smartphone applications last year? We’re halfway through tax season here in the U.S., so I have this info at the tip of my fingertips right now. I actually didn’t spend much: under $20 in 2008. I tend to use free apps when I can on my phone and I generally use a netbook for heavier lifting.

ABI Research recently took a very small sample of people who installed apps on their smartphones last year and queried them as to their total expense. Out of the 235 respondents, nearly 17% reported an expense between $100 and $499, which shocked me for two reasons.

First, I’d think that the many 99-cent applications for Apple’s platform would offset higher-costing software on other operating systems. Second, some of these folks could actually be spending more on software than their hardware cost them. I’ve bought plenty of smartphone software over the past half dozen years, but I don’t think I ever spent more than the hardware cost me. Perhaps I’m in the minority?

Have at it in the below poll, in which I break the expense brackets down in a more granular and lower level, as my guess is that most folks spent under $200 on smartphone software in 2008.

With all of the “app store” models, however, this has me thinking. Is the smartphone market making a bigger move towards the “Gillette” business model? Gillette, of course, famously makes relatively inexpensive razors, but makes money hand-over-fist on relatively expensive replacement razor blades.

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