US mobile market shares: Cingular – 28%, Verizon – 27%, Sprint/Nextel – 15%

67% of US households have at least one mobile phone, according to a 5,600 household survey from Forrester Research. Single-phone households are currently a declining minority, and households with four or more mobile phones have grown at a rate of 57% in 2004. The top three mobile carriers will own seven out of 10 mobile households: Cingular+AT&T Wireless (28%), Verizon (27%), and Sprint/Nextel (15%). Despite a move by providers to add features like digital cameras and color screens to their phones, consumers’ priorities when purchasing a phone have not shifted over the past two years. Basic features like price, battery life, and ease of use continue to be most important features to consumers. Less than 10% of subscribers says that a camera is important in their phone purchase decision.

While basic features are most important to consumers when choosing a phone, wireless data functions, such as the ability to access email and share photos, are becoming increasingly important. 20% of consumers say that having data capabilities is important when purchasing a new phone, a 39% increase over 2002. In 2004, the youngest age category in Forrester’s survey (18 to 24 years) surpassed 25- to 34-year-olds as the age group that is most likely to have a mobile phone. The only age group below 50% penetration for mobile phones is the 65 and older age group. Prepaid users have doubled in the past two years, reaching close to 11% of mobile phone consumers in 2004.