Can We Afford Our Mobile Addiction in Today’s Down Economy?

By Lindsey Scott

The financial crisis has begun to take its toll on the mobile ecosystem, as evidenced by a recent GetJar poll which found that 75 percent of respondents are planning to cut back on their cell phone bill or waiting to upgrade or buy a new phone.

It would seem that as the economic downturn continues, consumers are being forced to reconsider their $90/month cell phone plans or that smartphone they’ve been eyeing. However, for those who still need to satisfy their mobile cravings there are other options. Another bit of research released by comScore this week found that many mobile subscribers are purchasing iPhones as replacements for other Internet and entertainment services. The study indicates that although the iPhone still comes with a significant price tag of $200-$300 plus monthly service charges, it may ultimately save consumers money by eliminating the need for things like landlines and mp3 players.

All of this helps to explain why the fastest growing group of iPhone owners is comprised of individuals who earn between $25,000 and $50,000/year. iPhone owners in this income bracket increased by 48 percent between June and August of 2008.

comScore’s Mark Donovan remarked, “These data indicate that lower-income mobile subscribers are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to access the Internet, e-mail and their music collections… Smartphones, and the iPhone in particular, are appealing to a new demographic and satisfying demand for a single device for communication and entertainment, even as consumers weather the economy by cutting back on gadgets.”

For other financially savvy mobile users, forgoing the iPhone in favor of T-Mobile’s recently released G1 and a ride to the nearest Wal-Mart may not be such a bad idea. Five hundred and fifty Wal-Mart locations across the country began offering the G1, which runs on Google’s Android operating system, at just $148.88 yesterday, a full $31 less than it retails for at T-Mobile stores. The $148.88 price point will be available to both new users and existing customers who are eligible for an upgrade.

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