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Internet radio usage way up, driven by smartphone rush

Edison Media reports a big surge in Internet radio listening. And mind you, it’s not just the  boring old predictable annual uptick in Internet radio listening that we’ve all become accustomed to hearing about.

This uptick is serious, Edison insists. The weekly usage of online terrestrial radio streams and Pandora “pure play” has jumped from 22 percent of Americans twelve years and older in 2011 to 29 percent in 2012.

“This is a number that we are accustomed to seeing grow bit by bit each year, but this is the largest year-over-year increase we’ve seen since we began tracking this stat in 1998,” says Edison’s Tom Webster. “It’s easy to say that this kind of discontinuous jump is due to the increased usage of Pandora or Slacker or iHeartRadio or other individual brands, but I think there is a different dynamic at play here, driven by another discontinuous jump.”

Edison says the company will reveal the true nature of the aforementioned discontinuous leap when it unveils its full report on April 10, “but let’s just say that the percentage of Americans – mainstream Americans – who now own smartphones is going to show some growth, to put it mildly.”

Nielsen smartphone statisticsYou don’t have to wait, of course, until April to learn that smartphone use is exploding. Nielsen reports that 49.7 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers now use smartphones. That’s a boost of 38 percent since February 2011, when “only 36 percent of mobile subscribers owned smartphones.” The smartphone of choice is often Android, Nielsen says:

with 48 percent of smartphone owners saying they owned an Android OS device. Nearly a third (32.1%) of smartphone users have an Apple iPhone, and Blackberry owners represented another 11.6 percent of the smartphone market. Among recent acquirers who got their smartphone within the last three months, 48 percent of those surveyed in February said they chose an Android and 43 percent bought an iPhone.

Edison seems to think it’s all smartphone use from here on:

Mobile phones are increasingly providing the digital soundtrack to people’s lives on the go – just count the white earbuds, Beats, Boses and other headphones the next time you walk down Main Street. Previously those earbuds delivered mostly our own music files, but what our data shows is that there is pent-up demand for frictionless, mobile audio programming to provide that soundtrack for us, and smartphones are opening the floodgates.

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