Teens, Their Phones and 100% Penetration

Wireless Carriers are in for a rough ride, as cell phone penetration gets closer to 100% in the US.  It may never be actually 100%, although in some countries it’s more than that. Both AT&T and Verizon had a big loss of customers year over year from 2009’s first quarter.  Hmm.  Maybe growth will come from people’s attachment to specific products, not to specific carriers.  I predict that Verizon’s sales will jump exponentially if they ever get around to getting the iPhone.  In any case, the CTIA has a list of all sorts of wireless facts, and one of them is that while in 2005 the number of wireless only households was 8%, it is now 23% – and that’s a number that’s likely to continue to grow. In 2005, 81 billion text messages were sent per year – now there are 2 trillion. That’s a lot of thumb action.

And that number is really high for teens — Half of teens send 50 or more text messages a day, or 1,500 texts a month, and one in three send more than 100 texts a day, or more than 3,000 texts a month. Older teen girls, which will come as no surprise to anyone who lives with one, top the charts at an average of 100 texts a day. This from Pew’s Internet and American Life Report on Teens and Mobile Phones.  Here are some more fun facts about teens and their phones:

Meanwhile, Black teens are more than twice as likely to use their cell phones for getting online than their Caucasian brethren are (44% vs 21%). Hispanic teens weighed in at 35%.  Most notable about this study is that teens who come from low income households where there is less likely to be computer do the most connecting to the internet with their phones.  They are more than twice as likely to get online this way than more affluent groups.

There is an impact here about largely urban teens that marketers should heed.  Says eMarketer:

Brand marketers trying to tap this market must change their thinking about this largely urban audience… Urban millennials in particular are well-connected socially and open to people from all backgrounds. They have moved beyond brands that still rely on athletes and entertainers and now expect authenticity from marketers and advertisers.

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