One Third of Americans Own Smartphones Now


According to Arbitron, 1/3 of Americans now own a smartphone and that’s not surprising at all. I predict that number to just keep rising year after year as we are a very connected society.

The percentage of Americans age 12 and older who have a smartphone has more than doubled in the past year, from 14 percent to 31 percent of the population according to the new national survey from Arbitron Inc. (NYSE: ARB) and Edison Research, The Infinite Dial 2011: Navigating Digital Platforms.

The study, released today, is the 19th in a series of studies dating back to 1998.  Among the many other findings:

  • Facebook is now being used by a majority of all Americans age 12 and over (51%); this number was only 8% when Arbitron/Edison Research first measured the social media phenomenon in 2008.
  • A majority of American households now have two or more computers (51%); as compared to 24% of households in 2002.
  • Usage of online radio is up significantly, with weekly usage of all forms of online radio having doubled in the last five years; self-reported weekly time spent with online radio is now nearly 10 hours (9 hours 47 minutes).
  • Daily time spent with TV, Radio and the Internet combined has increased by 20 percent in the last ten years, with self-reported daily usage now at 8 hours 11 minutes compared to 6 hours 50 minutes in 2001.
  • Just under one-third of all Americans (31%) have plugged an MP3 player such as an Apple iPod into their car stereo systems.
  • One in ten Americans report listening to Pandora Internet Radio in the week before they were surveyed.
  • Among the 81% of American households with Internet access, two-thirds now have a Wi-Fi network installed.
  • More than one-tenth of all cell phone owners have listened to online radio streamed in their cars by connecting their phones to their car stereo system.

"When you consider the rapid growth in ownership of smartphones in context with the continued rise in the use of social media it becomes increasingly clear that these platforms are fueling fundamental changes in consumer expectations and how they use media," said Bill Rose, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Arbitron Inc.

"What’s fascinating about the Internet over the past ten years is the additive effect it has had upon the American media diet, which continues to expand," said Tom Webster, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing, Edison Research. "Rather than crowding other forms of media off the plate, so to speak, digital media is being consumed simultaneously with offline media, and in venues and opportunities where media might not have been consumed previously."

Since 1998, this notable research series has reported on and analyzed consumer use of the Internet, digital platforms and their impact on radio.

"This study provides further evidence of radio’s continued resilience and relevance in today’s digital landscape," said Arbitron’s Rose.

"The ubiquity of social media usage — and Facebook, in particular  — has had an enormous impact upon the ways in which people communicate with each other – which has profoundly affected not only how companies market themselves, but also how they hire and train internally," said Webster from Edison Research.

This study, as well as previous studies, may be downloaded free of charge via the Arbitron and Edison Research Web sites at and

How the study was conducted

A total of 2,020 persons were interviewed to investigate Americans’ use of digital platforms and new media.  From January 4 to February 2, 2011, telephone interviews were conducted with respondents age 12 and older chosen at random from a national sample of Arbitron’s Fall 2010 survey diarykeepers and through random digit dialing (RDD) sampling in  geographic areas where Arbitron diarykeepers were not available for the survey.  Diarykeepers represent 46% of the completed interviews and RDD sampled respondents represent 54% of the completed interviews.  The study includes a total of 480 cell phone interviews.