Assorted smartphones. From left to right, top ...

Baby Boomers slowly adopting mobile web

Baby boomers are on the verge of adopting smartphones and the mobile Internet, and in the vanguard of this movement are younger boomers. But boomers’ mobile Internet adoption rates will be similar to their social media uptake—that is, slow. They must see the benefits before they sign on.

Back in 1995, boomers were the pioneers of mobile phone usage, exceeding or equaling other age groups’ uptake of the devices, according to the Pew Research Center. Ownership rates have now grown to more than 85% among boomers, the majority using feature phones. But only 55% consider their mobile phone a necessity.

Graph showing US Baby Boomers who have a mobile phone

US Baby Boomers who have a mobile phone

“Internet use will be the driving force behind boomers’ adoption of smartphones and the mobile Internet,” said Lisa E. Phillips, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, “Boomers and Mobile Usage.” “They are avid Web users but no longer such early adopters.”

Boomers made up 30.6% of all mobile phone users in August 2009, according to comScore’s age breakout. However, they made up only 19.6% of all touch-screen users and 21.1% of smartphone users. Younger boomers (ages 45 to 54) were more likely than older boomers to use touch-screens, smartphones and any mobile phone.

Graph showing Total US smart phone users

Total US smart phone users

“Boomers are underrepresented among smartphone users but are becoming more interested in the devices,” said Ms. Phillips. “Smartphones are now well established in the marketplace, which should help to convince the portions of the boomer cohort that are not early adopters.

“The business aspect of smartphones should appeal to the many boomers who say they plan to continue working after retirement age,” Ms. Phillips said.

But price is a factor for many. As carriers reduce prices for phones as well as monthly data plans, more boomers will come on board.

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