Poor Households May Be Ditching Broadband for iPhones

Lower-income households are turning in force to Apple Inc.'s iPhone and may be doing so to save the cost of a separate broadband connection and music devices, according to the media measurement firm comScore Inc.

A comScore study released Thursday shows that the fastest growth in iPhone sales over the summer months came from households that earn less than the median income.

ComScore noted sales to lower-income consumers accelerated since the July appearance of the iPhone 3G, which offers high-speed Internet access.

"We see that lower-income consumers are increasingly turning to mobile devices to access the Internet, to listen to music and for e-mail," said Mark Donovan, senior analyst at comScore. "A 'Swiss-Army knife of a device' like the iPhone offers a phone, a music player, a camera and a way to connect to the Internet, which may appeal to consumers cutting back their spending on gadgets."

Ownership of the iPhone rose 48 percent from June 1 to the end of August among households earning between $25,000 and $50,000 a year, compared to 21 percent overall, the study showed.

Adoption of smart phones in this segment grew 16 percent over that period, ahead of the market average of 12 percent.

Mobile-browser use grew 4.9 percent among lower-income consumers, versus 2.7 percent overall, and their mobile music-listening rose 4.7 percent, compared to an overall decline of 0.3 percent. E-mail use, however, slightly lagged.

The study tracked changes in comScore's monthly online survey of 33,962 mobile-phone users. There were 2.6 million U.S. users of the iPhone at the end of August, which represented just 1 percent of U.S. cellphone users, according to comScore.

The trend of rising sales and usage among lower-income consumers emerged despite a slight decline in the number of such households, which contain a large number of retired women and consumers ages 25 to 34.

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