Feb. 2, 2011 at 10:58 AM ET
Smart phones are a bigger hit with people of color in the U.S. than whites, and among them the iPhone captivates Asians most while the BlackBerry continues to hold sway over African Americans, according to a Nielsen survey.
By the end of 2010, smart phones could be found in the homes of nearly a third (31 percent) of all mobile phone owners in the U.S. . But within the Asian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic populations, smart phones can be found in almost half (45 percent) of their homes and among African-Americans, 33 percent own smart phones. Among white mobile phone users, only 27 percent owned smart phones.
When the choice came down between a feature phone (one without an operating system like Apple's iOS or Google's Android) and a smart phone in the past six months, only 42 percent of whites who bought a new mobile phone in the past six months chose a smart phone, while 60 percent of Asians, 56 percent of Hispanics, and 44 of African Americans opted for one.
And when they chose smart phones, 36 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander picked iPhones, while 31 percent of African Americans favored Research In Motion's BlackBerry. Whites and Hispanics broke pretty evenly between iPhones, BlackBerrys and the increasingly out-of-control assortment of Android phones.
For the record, I have long coveted an iPhone, but I'm an Android user. But I also have a conscience nurtured in a liberal arts college environment (Go Oberlin!) and like Mike Daisey, I don't think Apple does any favors for Asians. Daisey's monologue, "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," explores the the Chinese city of Shenzhen, where the iPhone is made and where suicides at the FoxConn factory casts a much more sober light on the cult of Apple.
While the Nielsen study shows a three-way tie between the three smart phone operating systems in terms of overall ownership by year's end, Android is making the biggest gains in sales in the past six months, with 43 percent of recent owners buying an Android device, compared to 26 percent for Apple iOS and 20 percent for Blackberry RIM.