Trend: Smartphones moving to mainstream

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Although smartphone penetration is still in the single digits in the U.S., analysts at the Smartphone Summit (co-located with the CTIA Wireless 2007 conference in Orlando) this morning said that lower average selling prices and more functionality of the devices are driving smartphone adoption.

Gartner Dataquest analyst Todd Kort says that the U.S. has just 3 percent penetration of smartphones, and Palm and Blackberry are the prominent smartphone devices. Kort said that the No. 1 problem he sees with smartphone penetration is that it's still driven primarily by the consumer market instead of business users. He also notes that although Nokia has made some strides with its E series of smartphones, the uptake has been disappointing considering Nokia's marketing efforts with these smartphones.

Nevertheless, Cliff Raskind, director, global wireless, with Strategy Analytics, predicts that as prices of smartphones drop to the $200 and lower range, smartphone adoption in markets such as the U.S. will increase. He also believes that in-building usage is growing and that the potential for fixed/mobile converged smartphone devices is strong because it will increase the potential uses for smartphone devices.

The U.S. may have a small penetration of smartphone users, but those users tend to take advantage of new services. Mark Donovan, vice president of products and senior analyst at M:Metrics, says that 10 percent of smartphone users use mobile TV services compared to non-smartphone users. In addition, 49 percent of smartphone users browse for news compared to just 9 percent of non-smartphone users. "Clearly we see the smartphone advantage," Donovan says. -Sue