Nielsen: U.S. smartphone ownership higher among minorities

Among smartphone owners in the U.S., Hispanics and Asians are at the top of the list, as Android surges, the BlackBerry sinks, and the iPhone holds steady.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Almost a third (31 percent) of all mobile phone users in the United States own smartphones, but their adoption is higher among specific minority groups, says a report out today from Nielsen.

Based on a survey conducted in December, Nielsen found that 27 percent of white mobile phone users in the U.S. currently own smartphones. But that rate was lower than the 45 percent of Hispanics, 45 percent of Asians/Pacific Islanders, and 33 percent of African-American mobile users polled who said they have a smartphone.


The adoption rates for smartphone ownership are also rising, especially among minority groups. Over the past six months, 42 percent of white users who bought a mobile phone opted for a smartphone, while 60 percent of Asians/Pacific Islanders, 56 percent of Hispanics, and 44 of African Americans made the same choice.

Which mobile platforms are proving the most popular?

Among those who currently own a smartphone, Nielsen discovered a three-way tie among Research In Motion's BlackBerry, Apple's iOS, and Google's Android. However, ownership of a BlackBerry has dropped around 10 percentage points over the course of a year and iOS has remained the same, but Android has shot up 25 percentage points.


Further, more people who picked up a smartphone in the past six months went for an Android device, with 43 percent ownership compared with 26 percent for Apple's iOS and 20 percent for BlackBerry.

A report out yesterday from research firm Canalys noted similar trends in worldwide smartphone ownership, with Android surging to become the top smartphone platform across the globe.

Finally, Nielsen found that the iPhone was the top choice among Asians/Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, and white users. But among African-American smartphone owners, the BlackBerry pulled into the lead, owned by 31 percent of those polled.

To conduct its reports, Nielsen typically surveys a total sampling of around 20,000 people per month. But the company said that the numbers for the smartphone report were lower since it specifically targeted only smartphone owners by race or ethnicity.

Correction, February 2 at 5:46 a.m.: This story initially gave an incorrect figure for the number of people surveyed. It has been updated to give a better sense of the sample size.