Most adults now own smartphones: Comcast, EPB, AT&T roll out apps

Most adults now own smartphones: Comcast, EPB, AT&T roll out apps

September 20th, 2013 by Shelly Bradbury in Business Around the Region

The iPhone 5S, left, and iPhone 5c are displayed Tuesday in New York. The 5S offers a fingerprint sensor, a better camera and a faster processor, while the iPhone 5C is largely last year's iPhone 5 with a plastic back and a choice of five colors.

The iPhone 5S, left, and iPhone 5c are...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.


The share of those with smart phones is greatest among those in their 20s and early 30s:

* 18-24 years old - 79 percent

* 25-34 years ago - 81 percent

*35-44 years old - 69 percent

*45-54 years old - 55 percent

*55-64 years old - 39 percent

*Age 65 and older - 18 percent

Source: Pew Research Center, June 2013

POLL: Do you have a smartphone?

A majority of American adults now own a smartphone - and Internet providers are starting to target that growing mobile market by rolling out smartphone apps that extend the home Internet experience to the road.

"People have become busier, entertainment options have become greater, and they look wherever they can to see what they want, when they want, where they want," said Jim Weigert, Comcast Chattanooga general manager.

The company released a new "Family Sense" app last week that allows parents to track their child's location and quickly see social media activities.

The app is the ninth Comcast has released, and the first that will carry a monthly charge. It's free for 60 days, then costs $9.95 per month. Other Comcast Xfinity apps give users the ability to watch shows and movies on the road, use a smart device as a remote control or adjust their homes' lights or thermostats while on the go.

"More people own smartphones than regular phones," Weigert said. "The kind of growth is just amazing. That's why it's important to have these options."

Fifty-six percent of all American adults own smart phones, according to a June report by the Pew Research Center. About 35 percent of adults own a non-smart cell phone and just 9 percent don't own any cell phone.

Expanding to the mobile market is an essential next step for Internet providers, Weigert said.

"DVRs started 10 years ago and that was time shifting," he said. "You could record a show and watch it later on your schedule. Now, not only can you time shift, you can place shift. That's where mobile apps come in."

Comcast isn't the only provider delving into the mobile app world. AT&T offers a slew of apps that allow users to do everything from control their home DVRs remotely to sing karaoke.

"We're focused on apps that are easy to use, and enhance the content," said Cathy Lewandowski, AT&T spokeswoman. "What we're doing today, and where we're headed, is just the beginning. We're living in a mobile world."

At EPB, several mobile apps are under development and some are currently being tested, said Katie Espeseta, vice president of new products.

"We recognize the importance of mobile apps," she said. "We're spending time with local customers in focus groups and interviews to understand the types of applications our customers want. As soon as we fine tune those, some time this year, we'll be rolling out multiple apps."

She said the company plans to keep app development as an ongoing project for the long-term.

"We don't ever want to say we're through developing apps," she said. "It's one of those things that will go on forever as new applications arise. Customers are headed toward shortcuts to get what they need quickly, and adding mobile apps is one way to do that."

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or at