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.
Clickz also cites numbers from one research firm that have Latinos leading in mobile activity, with 55 percent of Latino mobile phone users classified as "SuperConnecteds," i.e. "the most sophisticated users of mobile phones that access the Internet at least weekly and do multiple advanced activities monthly or more often," compared to 34 percent of non-Latinos.
A significant down side to being reliant on a smartphone for web access is, of course, limited and less complex use of the Internet on a small screen device. Still, it's access.
Two recent reports, one from the Public Policy Institute of California and another from The Nielsen Company, also identified Latinos as heavy smartphone users, including as those who send the most text messages.