Smartphones are driving technology ownership like never before. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, “smartphones are transforming into all-purpose devices that can take the place of specialized technology, such as music players, e-book readers and gaming devices.” In fact, 68% of all U.S. adults now own a smartphone, while 92% own a cellphone. This number has nearly doubled since the Pew Research Center’s first study on smartphone ownership in mid-2011 when only 32% of adults had smartphones.
When looking at demographic groups (age, sex, race/ethnicity, household income, educational attainment, and community type), more than half of all people in each group owns a smartphone. The only two groups with lower smartphone ownership numbers are those ages sixty-five and older (30% own smartphones) and those who do not have a high school diploma (41% own smartphones).
Of the seven types of devices the Pew Research Center studies (cell phones, desktop/laptop computers, tablet computers, MP3 players, game consoles, e-book readers, and portable gaming devices), the only other device whose ownership is rising is tablet computers. In fact, the share of Americans who own a tablet computer has risen ten times since 2010, up to 45% from 4%. Perhaps as a direct result of sharp increases in smartphone and tablet computer ownership, e-readers have dramatically decreased in popularity. Only 19% of U.S. adults own e-readers, but 32% reported owning one in early 2014.
After cell phones, computers are the second most popular devices with some 73% of U.S. adults owning one. Interestingly, that number has dropped from 80% in 2012, likely due to the increase in smartphone and tablet computer ownership. Also on the decline, 40% of Americans own an MP3 player, down from the high point of 47% in 2010. Ownership numbers for both game consoles and portable gaming devices have remained the same in the past five years. 40% of Americans own a game console, while 14% own a portable gaming device.
The analysis in this new report is based primarily on telephone interviews conducted March 17-April 12, 2015 among a national sample of 1,907 adults ages eighteen and older living in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. For the full report, visit http://www.pewinternet.org/files/2015/10/PI_2015-10-29_device-ownership_FINAL.pdf.