February 24, 2011

In a survey of 800 smart phone users, Crowd Science has found that 26% of iPhone owners admit to being addicted to their device, along with 13% of BlackBerry owners. Since denial is a common part of any compulsive habit, one might assume the actual rate of smart phone addiction is higher.

Unsurprisingly, those between the ages of 30 and 49 are heaviest users of smartphone features, while respondents who are 50+ use fewer features (particularly text messaging, games, and social media) and do so less frequently.

More than half -- 58% -- of smart phone users perform local and map-based activities at least once a week; there's a wake-up call to any bank that hasn't made its ATM and branch locator available on mobile devices yet. Another 25% of smartphone owners say use local and map-based services less than once a month, 11% indicate they never do so.

Some reassuring news: the majority -- 89% -- of smartphone owners believe it is taboo to break-up with someone via text message.

But here's the alarming news: if their phone fell in a public toilet, 57% would fish it out. Among iPhone owners, 65% would grope through sewage for their device, compared with 49% for BlackBerry owners.

Last March, Stanford University conducted a study on 200 students using iPhones and found even stronger signs of addiction. Along with more than half the students admitting they were addicted, 3% said they don't let anyone touch their iPhone; another 3% have named their iPhone; 9% have patted their iPhone and 8 percent admitted that they have at some time thought "My iPod is jealous of my iPhone." Many iPhone owners reported complaints from friends and family about how much time they spent on their devices. In the survey, 7% of students said they had a roommate or partner who actually felt abandoned because of the student's involvement with the iPhone.

BlackBerry addiction has existed for years, hence the term "CrackBerry." The newer crop of iPhone junkies seem to have a more serious and bizarre attachment to their devices. Perhaps as they roll out new mobile banking features, banks should also try to offer some form of counseling for the mobile-dependent.

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