During the three-month average ending January 2012, 35.7% of US mobile subscribers used accessed a social networking site or blog on their mobile device, up 10.5% from the three-month average ending October 2011, and representing 41.1% year-over-year growth, according to comScore Mobile Metrix data. Texting remained the most common activity, used by 74.6% of US mobile subscribers, up 3.9% from 71.1% for the three-month average ending in October. According to a February report from Nielsen and NM Incite, social networking applications accounted for 5.5% of time spent on mobile phones in October 2011, compared to 13.3% for text messaging.
Meanwhile, comScore data shows application downloading (48.6%) and browser use (48.5%) both growing in engagement and continuing to run neck and neck, as they were for the 3-month average ending in December 2011.
Other mobile activities also saw an rise in subscriber engagement from the prior three-month period, including game-playing, which grew 8.9% to 31.8% of the mobile audience. Additionally, 24.5% of mobile subscribers listened to music on their phones (up 15.6% from 21.2% the prior period). A March 2012 report from the NPD Group suggests that the increase in mobile devices is contributing to growth in digital music downloads, with the number of paid download buyers increasing 14% in 2011 to 45 million customers.
Google Nears 50% Platform Share
Google Android improved its hold as the top smartphone platform for the 3-month average ending January 2012, with 48.6% market share, up 5% from 46.3% for the three-month period ending in October 2011. Apple also grew its share during that time period, reaching 29.5% of the smartphone market, also up 5% from 28.1% in the prior reporting period.
RIM continued to fall, as it ranked third with 15.2% share (down 11.6% from 17.2%), followed by Microsoft (4.4%) and Symbian (1.5%).
Overall, comScore data indicates that the number of US smartphone subscribers passed the 100-million mark in January, up 3.5% from December 2011 and 13.5% from October. Indeed, according to a Pew report released in March, 46% of US adults are smartphone owners as of February 2012, an increase of 11% points from the 35% who owned a smartphone in May 2011.
Apple Keeps Picking Up Mobile Subscriber Share
According to comScore, device manufacturer Samsung ranked as the top OEM with 25.4% of US mobile subscribers (down marginally from 25.5% the prior period), followed by LG with 19.7% share (down from 20.6%). Apple was the big mover, and only gainer for the period, picking up 2% points to reach 12.8% share of mobile subscribers. By contrast, Motorola lost 0.4% points, moving down to 13.2%, while RIM remained unchanged at 6.6%.
Although Pew’s report maintains that more US adults own smartphones (46%) than do cell phones that are not smartphones (41%), comScore’s data shows that in January 2012, 234 million Americans age 13 and older used mobile devices, of which 101.3 million were smartphone users. Some of the discrepancy may lie in the breadth of the data, with Pew’s report limited to those aged 18 and older, compared to comScore’s assessment for those aged over 13.
About the Data: MobiLens data is derived from an intelligent online survey of a nationally representative sample of mobile subscribers age 13 and above. Data on mobile phone usage refers to a respondent’s primary mobile phone and does not include data related to a respondent’s secondary device.
The NPD Group data is based on online surveys of US consumers age 13 and older. NPD conducted consumer surveys between December 14, 2011 and January 3, 2012, and the final reporting is based on 5,799 completed surveys.
The Pew results are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from January 20 to February 19, 2012, among a sample of 2,253 adults, age 18 and older.