How the iPhone Changed Government and Society: A Quick Review

Apple’s rise in federal market share accompanies a steep decline in BlackBerry use.

With Apple’s iPhone 5 slated to launch Wednesday and the tech world abuzz with rumors, now’s a good time to review how the indispensable smartphone has changed government and society.

To start, note this May study from the Government Business Council, the research arm of Government Executive and Nextgov, which found iPhone use tripled among federal managers between 2009 and 2011, reaching 23 percent. That figure’s especially impressive given that Apple hasn’t yet achieved the government’s coveted FISMA certification, meaning it’s compliant with the 2002 Federal Information Security Act.

Apple’s rise in federal market share was accompanied by a steep decline in BlackBerry use, down from about three quarters of the market in 2009 to just half in 2011. Google’s Android platform held steady at about 25 percent during that time.

The iPhone is also gaining steam in society as a whole. About 20 percent of American cellphone users have iPhones now compared with about 10 percent in 2011, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. During that same period, Android use rose from 15 percent to 20 percent and BlackBerry use dropped from 10 percent to 6 percent.

More Americans now own smartphones than own “feature cell phones,” which only call and text, according to new data from a September survey that Pew Internet and American Life Project Director Lee Rainie passed along to reporters Tuesday morning.

As with previous Pew surveys, the September report reveals that smartphone use is higher among young people than old and higher among urbanites and suburbanites than rural people. Smartphone use is also higher among blacks and Hispanics than among whites, according to the report, and people are more likely to own a smartphone as their income rises.

The iPhone also brought us the “find my phone” feature, which has foiled at least three unthinking thieves who messed with the wrong personal injury attorney.