The hidden smartphone demographic

Last night, while I was showing my  wife some of the bugs I’d found in the Droid I’m trialling at the moment (a blog post on that will come later for sure), she said something very insightful. She pointed out that of all the phones she had used over the years, the only ones she ever liked were Nokia. She went from S40 phone, to Samsung feature phone, to the superb N82 and currently she’s using the Satio which I talked about  in a previous blog post.

Now let’s remember something. Mobile phones are one of the most truly democratic pieces of technology in history. Everyone needs one, women just as much as men. That’s why the number of subscriptions runs in the billions – approaching the overall world population.

In the smartphone geek circle we have a fundamental problem though – we’re almost exclusively male. Being generous I’d estimate the split at 95%/5% (I’d love to see some real figures if anyone’s willing). While the split between the rich western world and the emerging markets is oft-documented in the blogosphere, the split between arguably a more widely differentiated demographic is hardly ever talked about. The split between male and female.

I’m going to refuse the temptation to hypothesise about the difference in tastes here, because I’d probably be wrong, and that’s not my point. It’s merely that this split should be recognised. Surely women don’t want precisely the same things from their smartphones as men do?

So some questions:

  1. Though the blogosphere is extremely biased towards male smartphone users, what is the demographic split for actual smarphone use?
  2. What are the preferences of female phone users? (I said ‘phone’ here because the tastes of smartphone users often don’t reflect overall tastes)

As I said before, I don’t propose to have the answers to these questions, but I do think they need to be answered in order to better understand the future of the smartphone market.

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7 Responses to The hidden smartphone demographic

  1. Jose says:

    As a technology loving, female N97 owner I can only say I want the same as most technology fans. A phone that does *everything* and *well* (N97 slips on the ‘ doing it well’ sometimes). I think fewer women are ‘techie’, thats all. Not none, just fewer.

  2. Cool, my first real comment!

    I suspected that female techies would have much the same preferences as male techies, but my point is that smartphones are becoming more and more mainstream (let’s face it, are there really 150 million phone geeks in the world?) and I think probably for non-techie people there is a difference.

  3. I, too, have been looking for the answer to your question, “@hat is the demographic split?”

    All I have found so far is 10.4 million women smart phone owners in 2008:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/10/technology/10phone.html

    and mobile social network use by gender:

    http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/for-social-networking-women-use-mobile-more-than-men/

    I’ve subscribed to the comments – if you find answers, I’d welcome hearing them! Thanks for the post.

    • Hi,

      Thanks for the info! The article does only refer to American smartphone users though. I’d have to dig up the figure for total smartphone owners to find out the percentage – but the thing is that the US market can often be something of a parallel world in mobile, so figures could be significantly higher or lower worldwide.

  4. Smartphone owners vs. mobile phone subscribers clarification:

    “According to a study by ComScore, in 2010, over 45.5 million people in the United States owned smartphones and it is the fastest growing segment of the mobile phone market, which comprised of 234 million subscribers in the United States.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smartphone

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