The Male vs. Female Debate Goes Mobile

Image from: James Flint / Shutterstock

A year ago, when we segmented Smartphone Owners by gender, the male population dominated the marketplace. But sometime in early 2011, that trend shifted rather dramatically and women started adopting smartphones in greater numbers. Females, who had once made up significantly less than half of the smartphone owner segment, were now accounting for just over half the segment.

Smartphone Owners by Male / Female Breakout – Trended

The wireless industry is starting to respond to the smartphone adoption by this segment in both its marketing efforts and its device selection.  On September 20th, VZW released the HTC Rhyme.  One of the key features that it touts in its advertising campaign is the Charm Call Indicator which dangles from your purse and lights up when you get a call or a text message.  This marketing is on the opposite side of the spectrum from the very male oriented targeting that we were accustomed to seeing with some of the large Droid campaigns.

So, does this strategy of marketing devices to particular demographics (in this case…gender) work and do differences exist in how the two genders are using their smartphones?  Let’s take a look.

We asked survey respondents if they performed a number of activities, ranging from sharing photos to conducting financial transactions on their smartphones within a given month.  We’ve charted activities that did a good job highlighting some clear differences between the sexes.

% of Male / Female Smartphone Owners that DO

(Question asked:  How often do you perform each of the following activities on your smartphone?  And the % displayed represents the sum of those not responding “Never”)

  • Clearly, we see many of these activities skewing more to females:
    • More females are socializing via mobile, whether it be via text messages, social networking sites, and sharing photos/videos with friends
    • Females are entertaining themselves with online games and also using the device to shop online
  • And, I am one girl that is glad to see that men are still taking charge on making the dinner reservations!

While that data looks at activities performed, there is another way to approach this battle of the sexes and that’s by looking at what features people would find to be a “must have” in their next smartphone purchase.

% of Male / Female Smartphone Owners that Designate a Feature as a “must-have” in Next Device Purchase

(Question asked was:   When shopping for a smartphone, which of the following features, if any, are a “must have” for you? And the % displayed represents the sum of those responding that this features is a “must have”)

  • The data shows that men tend to be more “feature driven” than women – when asked about these “must have features” more men than women picked basically every single feature
  • The only feature that seemed to weigh more heavily towards the female demographic was pre-installed games, though this was a very unpopular options for both of the sexes


Are you buying a smartphone for the holidays?  And if so, what features will be top of mind for you as decide which shiny new device to make your own?