For nearly ten years now we’ve been running our Pulse survey of 1,500 US consumers balanced to census that asks them dozens of questions related to personal finance and economic sentiment. With nearly ten years of data, these survey results are invaluable and give us as good of a read on consumer trends as we can find. (If you would like to learn more about our monthly Bespoke Consumer Pulse survey and the report we produce that accompanies it, you can do so here.)
Along with broader questions about things like employment, credit card payments, new home purchases, and risk tolerance, we also dive into consumer interest across things like smartphones, streaming services, social media use, and e-commerce. In regards to smartphones, every month we ask survey takers a simple question: “Do you own a smartphone?” Below is a chart showing the percentage of respondents that answered “yes” to that question on a monthly basis dating back to July 2014.
In the mid-2010s when we began asking the question, our survey results showed that smartphone penetration in the US was still between 75-85%. By 2020, that number had moved up to ~90%, and since then it has steadily ticked higher to its current level of 97.2%, which hit a new all-time high this month. At 97.2%, there’s basically no runway left when it comes to the total addressable market (TAM) of smartphones in the US. Everyone has one at this point!
The two main competitors in the smartphone space are iPhones and Androids. In our monthly Pulse survey, we closely track trends in this space for investors and companies that are interested in this data.
Along with there now being basically no room to expand smartphone ownership in the US, another problem for smartphone makers is that consumers are replacing them less often. Below are the results from a question we ask survey-takers on how long they typically keep their smartphone before getting a new one. Most respondents to this question typically keep their smartphones for 2+ years before replacing them, but this number actually started to trend lower from 2019 through mid-2021. During that time, respondents reporting that they replace their smartphones every year or less ticked higher. This trend shifted again in 2021, however, and since then we’ve seen a larger and larger share of respondents say that they typically keep their smartphone for 2+ years. Longer replacement cycles mean fewer sales, which is why it’s important for a company like Apple (AAPL) to introduce meaningful new iPhone features that will get consumers to replace their existing iPhones sooner. (Also, remember that longer-lasting batteries and more durable hardware are great for customers, but they also increase the replacement cycle.)
If you would like to check out our full Bespoke Consumer Pulse report, here’s a link that tells you how to do that.
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