Checking in on smartphone and Twitter usage

Over at Rubicon, we just did a quick consumer survey to check the status of a couple of hot topics in the tech industry, smartphone adoption and use of Twitter. I thought you might be interested. Here's a summary of what we found, and links to the full articles:

Smartphone adoption: RIM leads. In the US, about 10%-11% of the adult population uses smartphones. RIM has just under half of the installed base, followed by Apple at about a quarter.

The users of different types of smartphone have different feature priorities. iPhone users rate web browsing as their #1 feature, followed closely by e-mail. RIM users rank e-mail the most important feature, Palm users choose calendar, and Google phone users are partial to mapping. The profile for Windows Mobile users is similar to RIM's, but less enthusiastic about e-mail.

Mobile phone feature priorities of iPhone users compared to all mobile phone users. Percent of US users ranking a feature in their top four.

I think this is more evidence of something that I've been saying for a while -- most people buy phones more like they do appliances than like computers. They decide which functions are most important to them, and then pick the phone that does those things best, rather than looking for the best general-purpose device.

That's not to say that flexibility doesn't matter at all, but it's secondary. For example, adding third party apps is the #4 priority among iPhone users, and close to tied with several other features. It will be interesting to see how the priority evolves as Apple continues to advertise the daylights out of the app store.

For the full article, click here.

Twitter is a form of entertainment. Usage of Twitter is rising very rapidly -- as of April, it gets more daily visitors than in the US, according to

Our survey showed that the Twitter user base has more than doubled in the last six months. About 10% of US computer users have tried Twitter so far, and about a third of those people have stopped using it. You can decide for yourself if that's a big number or not, but a certain amount of churn is inevitable in any new web service.

Twitter awareness and usage among US PC users.

Most Twitter users say they are casual users of the service, and that it doesn't play an important part of their personal or business lives. The most active 10% of Twitter users say it does play an important role in their personal lives, but not in their business lives.

The overall pattern of usage indicates that for most people Twitter is currently a form of casual entertainment. There's nothing wrong with that, but the future of Twitter will depend on how that usage pattern evolves. Will Twitter become as important as e-mail, or will it be a fad like citizens' band radio (link)? It's too early to tell. But it's already clear that it's a separate medium with its own rules. Companies looking to use Twitter should make sure they understand how it's used; it's not the same as blogging.

For the full article, click here.


Mike Compeau said...

Hi Michael-

Just getting around to reading this very interesting post. I'm surprised to see the awareness of Twitter as high as you've found it, so I have my questions about sampling and population, but even considering that... I appreciate the analysis. The attrition is very important to note. Twitter can be an incredible time sink. I've heard it said that Twitter has three camps: those who USE it, those who are USED BY it, and those who have figured out they were BEING USED. A bit cynical perhaps.

I made my own conjectures about Twitter's future in a recent blog post where I postulated that it may crumble under it's own success.