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New study shows iPhone users to be in a class by themselves

iPhone users are richer, younger, and perhaps even more productive at work than those who use competing smartphones, according to a new study released Friday.

The study ($750 fee) from independent market analysis company Forrester Research suggests iPhone users comprise the elite upper class of smartphone customers. The data was compiled from 32,228 working U.S. adults in 2008. It found that those who own an iPhone are typically more active on their phones and more connected to the internet than those who fell into generic “smartphone” or “mobile phone” categories.”

The study, compiled by Ted Schadler, found that iPhone users are “more than twice as likely to access the Internet from their phone as working BlackBerry, Palm, or Windows Mobile device owners.” The research was inspired by anecdotal comments from companies such as Kraft Foods and Oracle that implied employees have a personal drive to use an iPhone at work, even when one is not provided by the employer.

The research suggests that an employee with an iPhone could be more productive: Those who carry Apple’s handheld device are more likely to stay connected to their employer’s network. Workers with an iPhone also usually leave their laptop at work, suggesting the phone essentially replaces the need for a traditional full-form mobile computer.

When comparing customer Internet usage, the study shows that the iPhone blows away its competitors. 78 percent of iPhone users reported they access the Internet at least weekly on their phone, while only 38 percent of the rest of the smartphone market were on the mobile Web that often.

The report has been a long time in the making. The survey was first conducted a year and a half ago, when the iPhone had only been available for six months and its starting price of $500 was considered by many to be prohibitively high. With Apple announcing this week a $99 iPhone 3G (subsidized by carrier AT&T) the phone is expected to have even more mass-market penetration. Forrester Research, based in Cambridge, Mass., plans to re-visit the study this year to see how the iPhone’s user demographics may have changed.


Among the study’s other findings:

  • iPhone users are younger. 30 percent of iPhone users in 2008 were of Generation Y, a larger portion than the rest of the smartphone market.
  • iPhone users are more educated and affluent. 49 percent of iPhone users have a college education, and 67 percent earn more than $70,000 a year.
  • iPhone customers spend more on their service. The average monthly phone bill for an iPhone user was $87, compared to $76 for the smartphone market, and $66 for traditional mobile phone users.
  • Employers are slightly less likely to subsidize an iPhone. 24 percent of respondents with an iPhone said they are compensated by their employer for their phone bill, while 28 percent of smartphone users have their employee pay all or part of it.