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Are Latinos the ultimate smartphone users?

Photo by Simon Carrasco/Flickr (Creative Commons)

It's been reported recently that smartphones are helping narrow the digital divide, particularly among Latinos, the group with the least access to home broadband. But it gets better than that, according to a piece on the ClickZ marketing news site today, which makes the case that Latinos are in fact leading the smartphone charge.

Almost half of Latinos own smartphones, according to the piece, and many depend on them for Internet access. Among these, the majority are also English speakers. More details:

Seventy-four percent of Hispanic mobile subscribers are between 18 and 44 years old. Being younger than the overall populations as well as more tech-savvy is helping drive smartphone penetration. These users are young, bilingual, dynamic, and connected. They live fast-paced lives, always on the go; their phone is an extension of self and they rely on their mobiles for everything.

Latinos are early adopters of the iPhone: more than 30 percent of iPhone users are Hispanic. But they are also Android fans: around 30 percent of Latinos with a smartphone have an Android phone and growing.

The iPhone has a better share among 25 to 34 year old Latinos and skews male. Android has a more even distribution in terms of age and sex.

From a language perspective, 52 percent of Latino smartphone users are English preferred with some Spanish, and 38 percent are Spanish preferred.


The smart phone vs. the digital divide

Photo by steefafa/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Photo by steefafa/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Much has been reported over the years about the “digital divide,” the lack of Internet access experienced by Latino and black Americans in comparison with other groups. Latinos in particular are on the losing end, less likely to have access than non-Latino whites, or to have a home broadband connection or a cell phone, according to a recent Pew Hispanic Center study. They also lag behind black Americans in home broadband access.

But smart phones may be narrowing the gap. KQED's MindShift education blog in San Francisco has highlighted a new report from the Public Policy Institute of California, which concludes:

...although Latinos are the group least likely to have a computer or Internet access at home, Latinos who use their cell phones to go online are twice as likely as whites (40% to 21%) to say that they mostly access the Internet this way.


Latinos on losing end of the 'digital divide'

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

A new Pew Hispanic Center study finds that U.S. Latinos are still on the losing end of the long-reported "digital divide," with Latinos less likely to have Internet access than non-Latino whites, or to have a home broadband connection or a cell phone. They also lag behind black Americans in home broadband access.

From a summary of the report:

While about two-thirds of Latino (65%) and black (66%) adults went online in 2010, more than three-fourths (77%) of white adults did so. In terms of broadband use at home, there is a large gap between Latinos (45%) and whites (65%), and the rate among blacks (52%) is somewhat higher than that of Latinos. Fully 85% of whites owned a cell phone in 2010, compared with 76% of Latinos and 79% of blacks.

The disparity is related mostly to income and education levels, and "Hispanics and whites who have similar socioeconomic characteristics have similar usage patterns for these technologies," the report summary reads. Not surprisingly, 71 percent of U.S.-born Latinos are likely to have a home Internet connection, versus 45 percent of foreign-born Latino immigrants.