Data Consumption and Smartphones

Mobile data consumption continues to surge, with newer smartphones generating downlink data volumes roughly 40 percent higher and uplink volumes as much as 130 percent higher compared to Apple’s iPhone 3Gs (introduced in 2009), according to a new study issued by network management software solutions provider Arieso. Using the iPhone 3GS as a benchmark, Arieso reports that data call time on devices like the BlackBerry Bold 9700, HTC Desire, Sony Ericsson Xperia and Apple’s iPhone 4 can increase by as much as 250 percent, while the actual number of data “calls” can grow by over 130 percent. According to Arieso, the results illustrate that different subscribers use their devices in different ways, exhibiting varying demands for mobile data–iPhone 4 users alone make 44 percent more data calls than their iPhone 3GS counterparts, downloading 41 percent more data to their smartphones and spending 67 percent more time connected to the network for data.

Arieso reports that subscribers on smartphones running Google’s Android mobile operating system score even higher than both iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 users in regard to data call volumes, time connected to the network and kilobits of data volume uploaded and downloaded. Samsung Galaxy users typically upload 126 percent more data than iPhone3G users, while HTC Desire users download 41 percent more data than iPhone3G users. Arieso adds that the number of voice calls per subscriber remains essentially flat, indicating that subscribers are increasingly reliant on their smartphones as a vehicle to consume data rather than making phone calls.

The U.S. wireless data services market grew 7 percent quarter-over-quarter and 25 percent year-over-year in the third quarter of 2010 to surpass $14 billion in revenues, according to data issued last month by advisory firm Chetan Sharma Consulting. Mobile data service revenues remain on track to meet and likely exceed the firm’s initial estimate of $54 billion for the year, Chetan Sharma adds–Verizon Wireless and AT&T together accounted for 85 percent of mobile data revenue growth in the third quarter, making up 70 percent of the total U.S. data services market as well 62 percent of the nationwide subscriber base.

Average revenue per user slipped by $0.17 in the third quarter; average voice ARPU plunged by $0.99, and average data ARPU grew by $0.82, or 5 percent quarter-over-quarter. Data now represents 33 percent of overall ARPU. Chetan Sharma adds that data consumption per device is expected to average 325 MB a month by year’s end, up 112 percent over 2009 and behind only Sweden in respect to per-capita mobile data consumption worldwide. The U.S. also leads in smartphone sales–smartphones accounted for 47 percent of devices sold nationwide in Q3, compared to 24 percent worldwide.


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