Announcing a new survey of iPhone users

I think it's safe to say that the iPhone is the most publicized new mobile product of the last several years, especially in the United States. But although there has been endless commentary on the iPhone, there hasn't been much solid data on how it's being used, and what impact it's having on the industry.

At Rubicon, we set out to fix that by conducting a quantitative study of US iPhone users last month. We released the results today at CTIA. You can read the full results on the Rubicon website (link). Here are a few highlights:

--iPhone users we surveyed are very satisfied overall with the product, and report that they're making heavy use of features like e-mail and browsing. This is driving higher mobile phone bills, producing about $2 billion a year in additional revenue for AT&T.

--Users are not universally satisfied with everything about the device -- about 40% report that it can't display all the websites they want to visit, and many also said they would like to see physical changes to the product, such as the addition of a bigger screen or a thumb keyboard.

--Users are young Apple veterans. Half of US iPhone users are under 30, and 75% are prior Apple customers.

--The iPhone is expanding the smartphone market. About 50% of iPhone users replaced conventional mobile phones, while 40% replaced other smartphones. The Motorola Razr was the conventional phone most often replaced, while Microsoft Windows Mobile devices and the RIM Blackberry were the smartphones most often replaced.

--Email is the #1 function. The most used data function on the iPhone is reading (but not writing) email, with about 70% of users doing that at least once a day. About 60% said they browse the web on the iPhone daily.

--The iPhone increases mobile browsing. Over 75% of iPhone users say they do a lot more mobile browsing on it than they did with their previous mobile phone.

--The iPhone drives carrier switching. About half of iPhone users switched carriers to AT&T when they obtained the iPhone.

Please note that although I usually post an April Fool's message today, this ain't it. The timing at CTIA made today the best day to release the study. It's completely genuine.


Anonymous said...

Hi Michael, thanks for publishing the highlights of this study.
One obvious question about your first point: Iphone users normally have unlimited data plan, so is the claim of increased data revenue for AT&T based on the assumption that those users would not take similar data plan (with another phone than the Iphone), or also that some of those heavy users will take similar data plan but with other operators?

Michael Mace said...

Good question, Olivier.

We poked around in the numbers to try to answer that. It looks like the increase in billings to the average user is driven by a combination of:

--People trading up from non-smartphones that had lower billing plans.

--People who decided to carry two phones when they got the iPhone, and so ended up with two billing plans.

Plus of course, the people moving to AT&T from another operator were 100% new revenue for AT&T. That is the biggest driver of their increased revenue. Check out the whitepaper for the actual calculations.

Patrick G. Curran said...

Hi Michael,

Thank you for publishing an overview of the survey. I found it very interesting. Both for the business issues that you discussed but also the mobile user experience findings contained in the report.

eshibui said...

Hi Michael, The detail about the iPhone expanding the smartphone market is pretty telling of the future of mobile devices. That 50% of iPhone users replaced conventional mobile phones, is pretty impressive for a v1.0 product's conversion ratio (from simple to complex device). I fall into the 40% who replaced their previous smartphone with an iPhone. I work in UE design for mobile and used the web browser and Java apps on my other smartphones regularly, but since I got my iPhone I use it all the time now. I think the all you can eat data plan and nice core apps (browser, widgets, email and SMS) are key. It's really become a pocketable computer for me, something the Newtons, Palms, and Nokia tablets never really lived up to for my needs. Many people have blogged about how the iPhone platform is the next wave of devices. I have to agree. It's more of a small computer with phone decent phone functionality than a phone with multitasking capabilities. This was a nice quantitative study. Thanks for sharing it with the mobile community. I really enjoy reading your blog. Keep writing! :)

eshibui said...

You study reported that one third of iPhone users carry a second phone. Did you drill into this number deeper? Can you provide any additional context for this finding? I wonder if it's because they carry a personal and work phone with them, which is a pattern I see among my coworkers and friends too, whether they have an iPhone or not. I use an iPhone for personal use and various other mobile phones for work use. I always have two with me during weekdays.

Anonymous said...

i agree,bigger screen plz, 5 to 7" with minimal bezel, including top and bottom. have voice come out from 3 corners

Anonymous said...

Thanks Michael - interesting study. I just wonder how long it will be before mobile search becomes a more meaningful to say Google revenues. Seems like it won't be for a while given the math between desktop units and smartphone units. Best, J