Most people would guess it. A large number of people in Generation Y own smartphones. Also known as Millennials, these people were born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, which makes their median age around 25 or 30. While many used personal computers (PCs) at one point in their lives, they have been at the center of the transfer of computing to tables and smartphones. According the Nielsen, the migration from old technology is nearly complete. More than 85% of these people own smartphones.
Millennials are one of the largest population segments in the U.S., totaling about 77 million, on par with Baby Boomers. And these young consumers are the largest segment of smartphone owners. In the second-quarter 2014, 85% of Millennials aged 18-24 own devices and 86% aged 25-34 own them, an increase from 77% and 80%, respectively, in second-quarter 2013.
Based on current ownership and growth, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Samsung have reason to be optimistic about future sales, particularly if members of Generation Y replace their smartphones with new models as rapidly as they seem to have in the past. Certainly sales of the new iPhone 6 will be a marker for the trend.
Another trend that should encourage smartphone manufacturers is that overall ownership across all parts of the population is high:
We all live increasingly on our smartphones. In the U.S. — where 171.5 million people (71%) own such a device — smartphones have become the staple of everyday life and the on-the-go tool of choice for consumers looking to catch up on emails, tap their social networks or even tweet about a recent sports game.
The preference for operating systems for these devices continues to favor Google Inc. (NASDAQ; GOOG) over Apple:
In second-quarter 2014, Android was once again the top operating system, with over half of U.S. smartphones (52%) running the operating system. Apple, meanwhile, remained the top smartphone manufacturer with 43% of Americans owning an iPhone.
There is plenty of evidence the age of the PC has been replaced by the age of the smartphone. Nielsen has done nothing more than to reinforce that.