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Mobile Phones - US - February 2014

“Smartphone manufacturers are expected to know what consumers want before they themselves know it, and to provide bleeding-edge technology at prices for all income brackets. Risks of missteps are very high, but in the absence of taking those risks, brands take on a greater peril: a stodgy image and irrelevance.”

– Billy Hulkower, Senior Analyst

Some questions answered in this report include:

  • How will the transition to prepaid impact sales?
  • Do BlackBerry and Windows have a future in phones?
  • Is the iOS gaining steam or a soft target?

Mobile phones are not only the flagship device for tech brands, but are also, along with tablets, the only major category of consumer electronics with growth potential. Nearly half of US adults do not own a smartphone as yet, and the expectation is that over 2014 there will be a large adoption of smartphones by the late majority. With late adopters to soon join current owners, and with current owners on a two-year or faster replacement cycle, this report will cover how to best woo first-time purchasers and how to create loyalty among current owners. Attitudes toward the OS (operating systems) are also explored.

This report builds on the analysis presented in Mintel’s Mobile Phones – US, February 2013. The report covers mobile phone hardware and OS. Adults aged 18+ are the focus of the report. Mobile phone accessories, such as smartwatches, headsets, docks, and head-mounted displays (eg Google Glass) are not included in this report.

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Table of contents

  1. Scope and Themes

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
        • Data sources
          • Sales data
            • Consumer survey data
              • Advertising creative
                • Abbreviations
                • Executive Summary

                    • The market
                      • Slow, but steady growth in volume
                        • Figure 1: US mobile phone unit sales, 2008-13
                      • Younger ages spend most on phones
                        • Figure 2: Spend on most recent cell phone purchase, by age, January-September 2013
                      • Prepaid plans jeopardize units and pricing
                        • Figure 3: Time since last purchase of cell phone, by type of plan, December 2013
                      • Key players
                        • Samsung, iPhone neck and neck
                          • Figure 4: Brand of cell phone owned, January-September 2013
                        • The consumer
                          • Opportunities in first-time smartphone buyers remain
                            • Figure 5: Smartphone ownership, by age, December 2013
                          • Rapid shifts in how we use our phones
                            • Figure 6: Features used on cell phone in past 30 days, January 2011-September 2013
                          • What we think
                          • Issues and Insights

                              • How will the transition to prepaid impact sales?
                                • Issues
                                  • Implications
                                    • Do BlackBerry and Windows have a future in phones?
                                      • Issues
                                        • Implications
                                          • Is the iOS gaining steam or a soft target?
                                            • Issues
                                              • Implications
                                              • Trend Application

                                                  • Trend: Creative Class
                                                    • Trend: Experience is All
                                                      • Mintel Futures: East Meets West
                                                      • Market Size and Forecast

                                                        • Key points
                                                          • Limited growth in volume
                                                            • Figure 7: US mobile phone unit sales, 2008-13
                                                          • Spend per handset rising
                                                            • Figure 8: Spend on most recent cell phone purchase, January 2011-September 2013
                                                            • Figure 9: Spend on most recent cell phone purchase, by age, January-September 2013
                                                            • Figure 10: Spend on most recent cell phone purchase, by household income, January-September 2013
                                                          • Replacement cycle at length of contract
                                                            • Figure 11: Time since last purchase of cell phone, by age, December 2013
                                                        • Market Drivers

                                                          • Key points
                                                            • Carrier subsidies
                                                                • Figure 12: Time since last purchase of cell phone, by type of plan, December 2013
                                                              • Other incentives
                                                                • Sweetening the deal with additional incentives
                                                                  • Trade-in programs
                                                                    • New usage pushes for larger screens
                                                                      • Figure 13: Features used on cell phone in past 30 days, January 2011-September 2013
                                                                      • Figure 14: Preference for largest screen phones, by age, December 2013
                                                                      • Figure 15: Preference for largest screen phones, by household income, December 2013
                                                                    • Design = Self-expression
                                                                      • Figure 16: Phones as form of self-expression, by age, January-September 2013
                                                                      • Figure 17: Phones as form of self-expression, by household income, January-September 2013
                                                                    • Tougher phones
                                                                      • Usage and technology
                                                                        • Figure 18: Attitudes toward cell phone usage, January 2011-September 2013
                                                                    • Leading Companies

                                                                      • Key points
                                                                        • Brands owned
                                                                          • Figure 19: Brand of cell phone owned, January 2008-September 2013
                                                                          • Figure 20: Brand of cell phone owned, by age, January-September 2013
                                                                          • Figure 21: Brand of cell phone owned, by household income, January-September 2013
                                                                        • Commitment to Apple
                                                                          • Figure 22: Preference for iPhone, December 2013
                                                                          • Figure 23: Preference for iPhone, by household income, December 2013
                                                                      • Innovations and Innovators

                                                                        • Key points
                                                                          • Asus PadFone Infinity a convertible phone/tablet
                                                                            • iPhone 5s: Touch ID and iBeacon
                                                                              • Moto X knows your voice
                                                                                • Nokia Lumia 1020: Camera first
                                                                                  • Samsung and LG get curvy
                                                                                    • Kyocera gets tough
                                                                                    • Marketing Strategies

                                                                                      • Overview of the brandscape: Are we running out of ideas?
                                                                                        • Third-party recommendations
                                                                                          • Figure 24: Samsung TV ad, “Accolades,” 2013
                                                                                          • Figure 25: HTC TV ad, “Full metal body,” 2013
                                                                                        • Talking to the man on the street
                                                                                          • Figure 26: Samsung Galaxy Gear TV ad, “In the Wild,” 2013
                                                                                          • Figure 27: HTC One, “On the street,” 2013
                                                                                        • Colors and casing
                                                                                          • Figure 28: Design as part of phone selection, by age, December 2013
                                                                                          • Figure 29: Apple iPhone 5c, “Greetings,” 2013
                                                                                          • Figure 30: Motorola Moto X ad, “Customize,” 2013
                                                                                          • Figure 31: Apple TV ad “Metal Mastered,” 2013
                                                                                        • Celebrity spokesmen
                                                                                          • Figure 32: HTC, “subversive” 15-sec, 2013
                                                                                          • Figure 33: HTC, “subversive” 2-minute, 2013
                                                                                          • Figure 34: HTC, “Lucas Bros,” 2013
                                                                                          • Figure 35: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 ad, “Golf lesson,” 2013
                                                                                      • Social Media – Mobile Phones

                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                            • Key social media metrics
                                                                                              • Figure 36: Key performance indicators, Dec. 16, 2012-Dec. 15, 2013
                                                                                            • Market overview
                                                                                              • Brand usage and awareness
                                                                                                  • Figure 37: Brand usage and awareness of mobile phone brands retailers, December 2013
                                                                                                • Interaction with brands
                                                                                                  • Figure 38: Interaction with mobile phone brands, December 2013
                                                                                                • Online conversations
                                                                                                  • Figure 39: iPhone 5 features online discussion topic cluster, September 2013
                                                                                                  • Figure 40: Online mentions, selected mobile phone brands, Jan. 13, 2012-Jan. 12, 2014
                                                                                                • Where are people talking about mobile phone brands?
                                                                                                  • Figure 41: Mobile phone brands negative twitter discussions, Jan. 13, 2012-Jan. 12, 2014
                                                                                                  • Figure 42: Mentions, by page type, selected mobile phone brands, Jan. 13, 2012-Jan. 12, 2014
                                                                                                • What are people talking about online?
                                                                                                    • Figure 43: Mentions by topic of conversation, selected mobile phone brands, Jan. 13, 2012-Jan. 12, 2014
                                                                                                  • Brand analysis
                                                                                                    • iPhone
                                                                                                      • What we think
                                                                                                        • Samsung
                                                                                                          • Figure 44: Samsung key social media indicators, January 2014
                                                                                                        • Key online campaigns
                                                                                                          • What we think
                                                                                                            • BlackBerry
                                                                                                              • Figure 45: BlackBerry key social media indicators, January 2014
                                                                                                            • Key online campaigns
                                                                                                              • Figure 46: Selected BlackBerry Twitter mentions, January 2013
                                                                                                            • What we think
                                                                                                              • HTC
                                                                                                                • Figure 47: HTC key social media indicators, January 2014
                                                                                                              • Key online campaigns
                                                                                                                • Figure 48: Selected HTC tweets, August 2013
                                                                                                              • What we think
                                                                                                                • LG
                                                                                                                  • Figure 49: LG key social media indicators, January 2014
                                                                                                                • Key online campaigns
                                                                                                                  • What we think
                                                                                                                    • Motorola
                                                                                                                      • Figure 50: Motorola key social media indicators, January 2014
                                                                                                                    • Key online campaigns
                                                                                                                      • What we think
                                                                                                                      • Smartphone and OS Penetration

                                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                                          • Segmenting veterans from novices
                                                                                                                            • Figure 51: Cell phone ownership by OS, by age, December 2013
                                                                                                                            • Figure 52: Cell phone ownership by OS, by household income, December 2013
                                                                                                                            • Figure 53: Cell phone ownership by OS, by intent to purchase in the next 6 months, December 2013
                                                                                                                          • Feature phone owner segments
                                                                                                                              • Figure 54: Profile of feature phone owners, by age and household income, December 2013
                                                                                                                          • Preference for Next OS

                                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                                              • Desired OS for next phone
                                                                                                                                • Figure 55: Desired OS for next phone, by age, December 2013
                                                                                                                                • Figure 56: Desired OS for next phone, by household income, December 2013
                                                                                                                                • Figure 57: Desired OS for next phone, by cell phone OS, December 2013
                                                                                                                                • Figure 58: Desired OS for next phone, by intent to upgrade phone or change provider, December 2013
                                                                                                                                • Figure 59: Desired OS for next phone, by type of plan, December 2013
                                                                                                                            • Feature Usage

                                                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                                                • Multiple opportunities for product differentiation
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 60: Features used in past 30 days, by age, January-September 2013
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 61: Features used on cell phone in past 30 days, by household income, January-September 2013
                                                                                                                              • Features Considered in Purchase

                                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                                  • Consumers get savvy about specs
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 62: Features considered in phone selection, by time since last phone purchase, December 2013
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 63: Features considered in phone selection, by age, December 2013
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 64: Features considered in phone selection, by intent to purchase a new phone in next six months, December 2013
                                                                                                                                  • Attitudes toward Price and OS

                                                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                                                      • Intent to purchase highest among 18-34s
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 65: Intent to upgrade, by age, December 2013
                                                                                                                                      • Concern about price limited
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 66: Use of personal price limits when phone buying, by age, December 2013
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 67: Incidence of picking cheapest phone for needs, by age, December 2013
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 68: Attitudes toward OS, by age, December 2013
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 69: Incidence of picking cheapest phone for needs, by when phone was purchased, December 2013
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 70: Attitudes toward OS, by when phone was purchased, December 2013
                                                                                                                                    • The Retail Experience

                                                                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                                                                        • Preference for buying in person
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 71: Preference for in-store versus online purchase of phone, by age, January-September 2013
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 72: Preference for in-store versus online purchase of phone, by household income, January-September 2013
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 73: In-store retailer as point of purchase decision, by age, December 2013
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 74: Sales advice versus other research, by age, December 2013
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 75: Sales advice versus other research, by intent to buy a new phone in next six months, December 2013
                                                                                                                                        • Impact of OS on research and recs
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 76: In-store retailer as point of purchase decision, by OS owned, December 2013
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 77: Sales advice versus other research, by OS owned, December 2013
                                                                                                                                      • Race and Hispanic Origin

                                                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                                                          • Whites spent least on current handset
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 78: Cell phone ownership, by race and Hispanic origin, January-September 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 79: Spend on most recent cell phone purchase, by race and Hispanic origin, January-September 2013
                                                                                                                                          • iPhone has greater appeal with Asians, Hispanics
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 80: Brand owned, by race and Hispanic origin, January-September 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 81: Desired OS for next phone, by race/Hispanic origin, December 2013
                                                                                                                                          • Asians, Hispanics more advanced users
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 82: Attitudes toward cell phone usage, by race and Hispanic origin, January-September 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 83: Features used on cell phone in past 30 days, by race and Hispanic origin, January-September 2013
                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Other Useful Consumer Tables

                                                                                                                                          • By age
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 84: Attitudes toward cell phone usage, by age, January-September 2013
                                                                                                                                          • By household income
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 85: Attitudes toward cell phone usage, by household income, January-September 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 86: Features considered in phone selection, by household income, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 87: Price limits and research conducted, by household income, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 88: Purchase decision factors, by household income, December 2013
                                                                                                                                          • By race and Hispanic origin
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 89: Purchase decision factors, by race/Hispanic origin, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 90: Features considered in cell phone selection, by race/Hispanic origin, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 91: Time since last purchase of cell phone, by race/Hispanic origin, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 92: Price limits and research conducted, by race/Hispanic origin, December 2013
                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Social Media

                                                                                                                                          • Brand usage or awareness
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 93: Brand usage or awareness, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 94: iPhone usage or awareness, by demographics, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 95: Samsung usage or awareness, by demographics, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 96: Motorola usage or awareness, by demographics, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 97: BlackBerry usage or awareness, by demographics, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 98: HTC usage or awareness, by demographics, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 99: LG usage or awareness, by demographics, December 2013
                                                                                                                                          • Activities done
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 100: Activities done, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 101: iPhone – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media, by demographics, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 102: iPhone – Activities done – I have contacted/interacted with the brand online on social media to, by demographics, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 103: iPhone – Activities done – I follow/like the brand on social media because, by demographics, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 104: iPhone – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to, by demographics, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 105: Samsung – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media, by demographics, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 106: Samsung – Activities done – I have contacted/interacted with the brand online on social media to, by demographics, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 107: Samsung – Activities done – I follow/like the brand on social media because, by demographics, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 108: Samsung – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to, by demographics, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 109: Motorola – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media, by demographics, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 110: Motorola – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to, by demographics, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 111: BlackBerry – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media, by demographics, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 112: BlackBerry – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to, by demographics, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 113: HTC – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media, by demographics, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 114: HTC – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to, by demographics, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 115: LG – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media, by demographics, December 2013
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 116: LG – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to, by demographics, December 2013
                                                                                                                                          • Online conversation
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 117: Online mentions, selected mobile phone brands, Jan. 13, 2012-Jan. 12, 2014

                                                                                                                                        Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                        • Apple Retail
                                                                                                                                        • Google, Inc.
                                                                                                                                        • HTC
                                                                                                                                        • Kyocera Corporation
                                                                                                                                        • LG Electronics Inc (USA)
                                                                                                                                        • Microsoft USA
                                                                                                                                        • Motorola Mobility Holdings
                                                                                                                                        • Nokia Corporation (US)
                                                                                                                                        • Research In Motion (USA)
                                                                                                                                        • Samsung Electronics (USA)
                                                                                                                                        • Sanyo North America Corporation
                                                                                                                                        • Sony Ericsson (USA)

                                                                                                                                        Mobile Phones - US - February 2014

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