mGage

From 'Mobile First' to 'Mobile Only'

Alex Spencer

Chetan Sharma Consulting has released its US Mobile Data Market Update for Q1, 2012. As ever, the report contains a swathe of figures, forecasts and analysis. Among the predictions are that what it calls the 'mobile first' doctrine will become 'mobile only' as mobile's growing domination continues.

“It is not that the desktop world will disappear into oblivion - far from it. But the investments, strategy, and execution will all be driven by mobile,” says Sharma. “In three to five years, with few exceptions, if a company is not doing majority of its digital business on mobile, it is going to be irrelevant. There are already several data points to support the theory. Leading apps and services like Facebook, Twitter, Pandora are already operating in the world where mobile is driving majority of their user engagement. Expedia, Fandango and others are seeing the early signs of migration into the mobile-dominated world.”

Among the many figures backing up that prediction are the growth of the US mobile data market, up 21 per cent year-on-year to a total $18.7bn in Q1. Data now makes up over 40 per cent of the US mobile industry service revenue, and Chetan Sharma forecasts that data revenues will reach $80bn by the end 2012.

Data emerges as the big story across the report – it now makes up over 85 per cent of the mobile traffic in the US, and operators are seeing smartphones users' average monthly data consumption approaching the Gigabyte mark. Data traffic doubled for the eighth year in a row, and the analyst says it expects that to double again in 2012. ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) increased by $0.54 overall – and by $0.96 for data services, but saw a decline of $0.41 for voice services.

While many markets are seeing messaging volume declines, in the US messaging grew by 6 per cent year-over-year, with the average US consumer sending 687 messages a month. Operators are seeing messaging revenue drop, however, due to the rise of IP messaging.

The report also examines the OTT phenomenon which, Sharma says, is “shifting the tectonic plates at a rapid pace. What seemed like a minor irritant only a few quarters back is become a nuisance virus that is eating away the core.” According to the analyst, operators are currently in the process of reacting to the development of OTT services, with some going into panic mode while others embrace the situations of working out how to exploit the opportunity it presents.

Other issues taken in by the report include mobile patents – which saw IBM top the industry in 2011 – and family data plans. “We have been big advocates of family data plans for the last two years, and they are finally coming to the US market in the next few months, if not weeks,” says Sharma. “Like gravity, it’s inevitable. Consumers want simplicity and common sense. Family data plans doesn’t necessarily mean that all family members will be forced onto a single data plan, but rather the consumers given the opportunity to combine data usage under the same umbrella if they wanted to.”

Had enough? No? A final few statistics from the report - Apple has only 8 per cent of the global unit shipment share, but over 70 per cent profit share. The US accounts for roughly 40 per cent of the world’s smartphone sales. A third of US consumers don’t use landline phones.

Still not had your fill? Then you can read the full report here.

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