Apple’s New iPhones and the Race to Drive Smartphone Adoption

There's still a digital divide between people who can create content and those who can only consume it.

By Jamilah King Sep 10, 2013

Apple has announced the release of its new iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S. It’s a significant moment, as most Apple product announcements are, because the company’s innvoations have so often shaped the landscape of consumer products over the past decade. It’s also an important moment to take a look at how race colors that landscape.

The new iPhone 5C is a lower cost device that Apple hopes will help them compete against its more affordable rivals, particularly Samsung. It features all the functionality of a traditional iPhone wrapped inside of a colorful plastic case, according to the Chicago Tribune. The device comes at a crucial time for the company as millions of people in the U.S. and abroad have adopted smartphones. "With smartphones surpassing 125 million U.S. consumers and tablets now owned by more than 50 million, we have crossed into the Brave New Digital World — a new paradigm of digital media fragmentation in which consumers are ways connected," according to a report released earlier this year by comScore, an industry analytics company.

But just how we’re connected often has a lot to do with race. Another report released earlier this year by Pew noted that Latino 86 percent of Latinos own a cell phone, compared with 84 percent of whites and 90 percent of blacks. And Latinos are just as likely as blacks and whites to own a smartphone: 49 percent.  

But that same research pointed out just how reliant Latino users are on their smartphones as their primary devices to get online. Latino users were more likely than whites to say that they use smartphones to go online, and equally likely to access the internet from a mobile decive. That means that since smartphones are often easier and cheaper to use than high-speed home internet access, there are still lingering effects of the digital divide, primarly between those who can consume content and those who can create it.