US Smartphone Data Usage Up 89 Per Cent

The mobile “data tsunami” is still growing at an astounding pace. According to Nielsen’s monthly analysis of cellphone bills for more than 65,000 lines in the US, smartphone owners  – especially those with iPhones and Android devices – are consuming more data than ever before on a per-user basis. This has huge implications for carriers, says Nielsen, since the proportion of smartphone owners is also increasing dramatically. Currently, 37 per cent of all mobile subscribers in the United States have smartphones.

In last 12 months alone, the amount of data the average US smartphone user consumes per month has grown by 89 per cent from 230 Megabytes (MB) in Q1 2010 to 435MB in Q1 2011. A look at the distribution of data consumption is even more shocking: data usage for the top 10 per cent of smartphone users is up 109 per cent while usage among the top 1 per cent has grown by 155 per cent from 1.8GB in Q1 2010, to more than 4.6GB in Q1 2011.

Growth in Smartphone data usage is clearly being driven by app-friendly operating systems like Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, says Nielsen.

Consumers with iPhones and Android smartphones consume the most data: 582MB per month for the average Android owner and 492 MB for the average iPhone user. Also of note, Windows Phone 7 users doubled their usage over the past two quarters, perhaps due to growth in the number of applications available.

Even as data usage has almost doubled, most US users are paying around what they did a year ago for data. That translates to a lower cost per unit of data consumed. The amount the average smartphone user pays per unit of data has dropped by nearly 50 per cent in the last year, from 14 cents to 8 cents per MB.