Youth Driving Smartphone Adoption in Canada

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Facebook and Twitter, which are most popular with a younger crowd, help drive smartphone take-up. (Photo: Sanja Gjenero )
Facebook and Twitter, which are most popular with a younger crowd, help drive smartphone take-up. (Photo: Sanja Gjenero )

WORLD

  • 1 in 5 Canadians and over 45% of 18 to 34-year-olds own a smartphone in Canada
  • Ontario-based RIM’s Blackberry is the brand leader, followed by Apple’s iPhone
  • 80% of Canadian smartphone users pay for a data plan compared to 15% of cellphone users

One in every five Canadians, or nearly 7 million total, own a smartphone, according to a recent research survey by firm Comscore Canada.

Talking in percentage terms that means over 19% of the Canadian population, or 30% of wireless device users over 13 years old, own a smartphone. Overall, these numbers rank Canada just above the United States, France and Germany.

Another recent study by Ipsos Reid shows smartphone ownership is particularly high – over 45% – for the 18 to 34-year-old age group. Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association President Bernard Lord told Canadian Business Magazine: “The younger group is more interested in these technologies and want to use them and that’s a leading indicator that these technologies will grow.” The boom of online social media, which is most popular with the younger crowd, also helps drive take-up.

Most Popular Brands

Which brand of smartphones do Canadians like best? BlackBerry, which belongs to Ontario-based Research in Motion (RIM), wins with over 40% of the market share, followed by Apple’s iPhone at over 30%. Users in the US are also pro-RIM BlackBerry.

Enhanced web functionality seems to be a leading motivator in smartphone ownership, with some 80% of smartphone users paying for a data plan compared to just 15% of cellphone users.

Canadians are using their smartphones to browse the Internet, download apps and do mobile banking. They are also keen on websites that use a phone’s GPS to locate businesses close by that offer deals, and are open to using smartphones as a substitute for membership cards, transit passes and gift cards.

Advanced Features Not Yet a Hit

More advanced features, such as 2D barcode technology that lets users take a photo of a barcode to direct them to information online, were not widely used but nearly half of users were aware that these types of functions existed.

One thing is clear: the shooting success of smartphones is not limited to Canada. The worldwide smartphone market grew to over 100 million units in the last quarter — up a whopping 89% on 2010 according to research firm Canalys – and it shows no sign of slowing down in the near future.

Key Statistics – Smartphone Operating System Market Share in Canada (source: Canalys)

  • Blackberry – 38%
  • Android – 28.5%
  • iOS – 20.7%
  • Symbian – 4.8%
  • Others – 8%

By Stephanie Lagopoulos for
Based in Toronto, Stephanie Lagopoulos is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, travel and technology. She also works in the advertising industry.

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