NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With the relentless coverage of mobile apps, one would think that everyone owns a smartphone.We're close. But not quite. And we may never be a nation of exclusive smartphone users. Depending who you ask, research puts non smartphone users in the U.S. at around 55% (Pew Research Center), 42% (Business Insider Intelligence) or 40% (Strategy Analytics). In fact, market researcher IDC projects that this year will be the first time ever smartphones out-ship other mobile phones around the world. And only by a smidge -- at 50.1%. While there will always be Luddites with an aversion to owning a smartphone, most of those who go without do so because of cost or complexity. And a good chunk of the population will probably never own a smartphone, said Neil Shah, senior analyst of Strategy Analytics Global Wireless Practice. These could include seniors, children, cellular users
Through its Ready Now program, Sprint ( S) store employees help set up new phones before the customer walks out the door. That includes transferring contacts, setting up email and demonstrating the phone's features.
With the launch of faster mobile Internet, mobile operators can charge more for data, which is helping offset declines in phone service revenue. According to IDC, average data revenue per user jumped 40% since 2008, while phone revenue declined 19%. AT&T ( T), for one, reported in first quarter this year, that its average revenue per smartphone user is twice that of non-smartphone subscribers.
"We have a broad selection of devices to accommodate all of our customers, including those who want basic phone features," said Mark Siegel, with AT&T Wireless. "There is a need for this and we're happy to provide it." At the time of publication the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned. Follow @gadgetress This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.