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Nielsen: Smartphones now account 44 pct of U.S. mobile phones

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Everybody knows smartphones are all the rage amongst consumers, and market research firm Nielsen is putting some numbers behind that, with its most recent Mobile Media Report for the third quarter of 2011. Nielsen finds some 44 percent of all phones in use in the United States are now smartphones, and that smartphone penetration is even higher among younger adults: some 64 percent of adults aged 25 to 34 use smartphones, along with 53 percent of users aged 18 to 24.

Also no surprise: smartphone owners seem to love apps, games, and video. Nielsen finds that 62 percent of smartphone owners have downloaded apps to their devices, and games are the top category of applications owners have used in the last 30 day. Furthermore, Nielsen claims that 87 percent of folks who have downloaded a smartphone app in the last 30 days have used deal-of-the-day Web sites like Groupon or Living Social, and that almost half (49 percent) use their smartphones “frequently” while shopping.

Although mobile video is still a bit of a niche activity amongst smartphone owners (who perhaps, are concerned about caps on their data plans) Nielsen nonetheless finds that 26 million smartphone users tapped into mobile video during the third quarter of 2011. That’s up from 16 million a year ago, an increase of over 60 percent.

Nielsen finds iPhone owners seem very app-happy, having an average of 44 apps on their devices. And the most-used smartphone app, regardless of platform? Facebook. Nielsen also finds that teens (users aged 13 to 17) are the heaviest users of text messaging, sending an average (an average, mind you!) of 3,417 text messages a month.

Nielsen text messages by age group dec 2011

Nielsen’s figures are based on monthly surveys of mobile users, along with analysis of data usage and analysis of mobile usage bills from consumers who have volunteered to be part of Nielsen’s research The company says it surveys more than 300,000 people a year; these figures are based on responses from 25,000 mobile users.

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