Friday, April 4, 2008

Understanding the iPhonatics

At CTIA this week, Rubicon Consulting released a survey of 460 US iPhone users. The 35 page study is signed by Mike Mace, co-author of my iPhone paper.

A few key points:

  • the most time is spent on e-mail, but the device increases browsing too.
  • a third of the audience carry a second phone.
  • the iPhone increased bills by $228 annually, half of the users switched to AT&T, and AT&T gained an additional $2 billion in annual service revenue.
About 40% switched from other smartphones — which in the US are not surprisingly Blackberry or Windows Mobile — and 50% switched from another phone such as a Motorola Razr. 75% of the customers either own an iPod or Mac.

The report listed two major challenges. First, the WebKit-enabled iPhone browsing doesn’t work on certain websites. (The report doesn’t mention it, but Nokia S60 uses the same browser technology).

Second, the iPhone has won the most innovative users,† but can it appeal to a broader market? This was a question for the iPod and Newton, too — one made it and the other didn’t — although the Newton never even got close to early adopters, let alone the “chasm”.

My rough reading is that Apple is roughly on track — it’s achieved its beachhead, but it has a long way to go to become mass market. And (as with any innovator) its rivals are not going to stand still.

† The report says “early adopter”, which is a technical term in innovation diffusion research that specifically refers to a market penetration of 2.5-16%, but is often misused by practitioners to mean anything in the first 15-20%. With a 17% share of new North American sales in 2007 (not installed base), early adopter (“visionary” in Geoff Moore terms) is a plausible categorization for the US. But in Europe, it’s clearly at the innovator (Rogers) or enthusiast (Moore) stage of 0-2.5%.

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