Top Users Show Heaviest Growth
A look at the distribution of data consumption reveals data usage for the top 10% of smartphone users (90th percentile) is up 109%, while the top 1% (99th percentile) has grown its usage by a significant 155%, from 1.8GB in Q1 2010 to more than 4.6GB in Q1 2011. Growth by users below the 60th percentile was negligible.
Currently, 37% of all mobile subscribers in the United States have smartphones.
Apps Drive Data Growth
Nielsen analysis indicates that growth in Smartphone data usage is clearly being driven by app-friendly operating systems like Apple iOS and Google Android. Consumers with iPhones and Android smartphones consume the most data: 582 MBs per month for the average Android owner and 492 MBs for the average iPhone user.
Also of note, Windows Phone 7 users doubled their usage during the past two quarters, which Nielsen says is perhaps due to growth in the number of applications available.
Total Data Costs Drop 43% YOY
Even as data usage has almost doubled, most 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 43% percent in the last year, from 14 cents per megabyte (MB) to 8 cents per MB.
Mobile Social Networking Grows
One possible contributing factor to increased smartphone data usage is that the frequency of mobile social networking grew about 10% between the three-month period ended January 2011 and the three-month period ended April 2011, according to comScore MobiLens data. Twenty-eight percent of US mobile subscribers accessed a social networking site via mobile phone in April, compared to 25.3% in January.
About the Data: Nielsen collects monthly data on more than 65,000 cellphone lines.