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Overall U.S. smartphone penetration stood at 48 percent in January, reports Nielsen today. Those in the 24-34 age group showed the greatest proportion of smartphone ownership, with 66 percent saying they had a smartphone. Among those who chose a device in the last three months, more than half of those under 65 had chosen a smartphone.

But age isn’t the only determinant of smartphone ownership. Income also plays a significant role. When age and income are both taken into account, older subscribers with higher incomes are more likely to have a smartphone. For example, those 55-64 making over 100K a year are almost as likely to have a smartphone as those in the 35-44 age bracket making 35-75K per year.

According to an International Data Corporation report, a total of 472 million smartphones will be shipped in 2011 compared to nearly 305 million units shipped in 2010. The report further estimates shipments figures to nearly double to 982 million by the end of 2015.

Global smartphone penetration is just now nearing 10%. The world now has 745 million smartphones in use today, calculates Tomi Ahonen.

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