56% of Us Now Own Smartphones, Up 16% in Less Than One Year

Anyone who thinks the mobile revolution is slowing down, think again.

New data from Nielsen reveals that 55% of mobile subscribers in the US now own smartphones. While the data is strictly American, we know that Canada has run closely parallel to the US on this front for years. The CRTC reported last summer that our smartphone penetration rate was 38%, just 3% off the US number, while ComScore suggested it reached 40% in November 2011, not far behind the US once again.

In fact, our ownership gains may have actually exceeded that of Americans in the past year.

In May, the J.D Power and Associates 2012 Canadian Wireless Total Ownership Experience Study suggested up to 54% of Canadians owned a smartphone at the time. It’s easy to imagine we’ve gained at least one or two percent since then based on historical adoption rates.

Not surprisingly, Nielsen reports that teens adoption smartphones faster than any other demographic.

“Among most age groups smartphones represent the majority of mobile subscribers, but teens were the age group adopting smartphones the fastest,” Nichole Henderson, a Nielsen analyst, explained. “As teens increase in their share of smartphone owners, mobile carriers and manufacturers should consider how to market to this growing group.”

While all of these studies vary slightly in their methodologies (and therefore end results), it’s clear that smartphones are the device of choice for virtually all new mobile phone purchases. These days, there’s almost no reason to choose a quick messaging phone over a smartphone. After all, without a smartphone, how can you overpay for mobile data?