The iPhone as equalizer?

If you believe the iPhone is a cool tool only for the well-heeled, think again. What is arguably the hottest tech item on the planet is apparently being used as a money-saving tool by households that want to save on the increasingly higher costs of staying connected. A comScore study scheduled for release today shows that the highest growth in use of Apple’s latest must-have gadget was among those with a household income of $25K to $49,999 (48 percent growth in June to August), followed by those making $50K to $74,999 (46 percent growth during the same period).

It’s probably too early to draw any solid conclusions from one quarter’s results. And the study does say that 43 percent of iPhone owners have a household income of $100K or higher. But if others agree that the iPhone’s all-in-oneness eliminates the need for many gadgets and provides an easy way to access the Internet, then the price tag of $200 and at least $70 a month in charges may indeed be a bargain. That is, provided you like surfing the Web on a small screen and don’t have a big family. It’s hard to imagine more than a couple of people sharing an iPhone to look at a funny YouTube video, for example. Or listening to music. When you start “needing” iPhones for more than a couple of people in your household, it won’t be as cost-effective.


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  • GM

    Most likely explanation is that the well-heeled already bought iPhones when they were expensive, thus with the price drop, the phones are more affordable by lower income households.

    I agree that the consolidation of devices is appealing, however, I don’t share the notion of the iPhone as a primary device for net surfing – unless it can be used as a tethered modem.

  • BeeGee

    I’d like to know more about these demographics. Are we talking about 25-year-old single people earning $45K, which is different from a family of three with a 35-year old head of household earning the same income?

  • Pretty nice post! Keep them coming….

  • GeeWhizGuys

    The blantantly missing information is, how OLD were all these low income buyers. Clearly the iPhone appeals to twenty-somethings, who generally are not married and because of their age group and just getting started in their career status, make substanitally less than the average family of 4. Further, just because one buys an iPhone, it is really a stretch to interpolate that you are buying it so you can eliminate your PC (or Mac) surfing habits. Where’s the proff of that statement? All in all, a pretty flimsy set of assumptions here.

  • Joe Capital

    here is another conclusion about iPhones and consumer behavior in a quarter ending August: what you saw was the last gasp of credit card spending by <$75K demographic on the hottest consumer toy. It’s not about any ridiculous notion of using this as a substitute for internet access/PC…. it’s just the latest gotta have status symbol for today’s pop/blingbling culture, esp amongst <30yr old.

    Just wait and see what the iPhone #’s will look like six months from now…
    $70/mo to text on an iPhone will be squeezed out in favor of cheaper plans from tmobile, sprint, etc…

  • Tim Crawford

    They sell a cable to plug in to your tv. So one could share YouTube videos with family

  • iPhone use among my undergrads is way up. They’d fall into the seemingly low-income #s offered above. I would hesitate to classify most as low income. Most will likely earn more than me in a few years 🙂 Conclusions on the equalizer effect may be overstated.

  • xwallster

    Good chance that most of the undergrad iPhone use is subsizided by parents. That excepts them from the “low income” bucket.