Smartphone owners, especially those with iPhones and Android devices, are consuming more data than ever before on a per-user basis, according to monthly cellphone data collected by the Nielsen Company. In just the last 12 months, the amount of data the average smartphone user consumes per month has grown by 89%, from 230 Megabytes (MB) in Q1 2010 to 435 MB in Q1 2011.
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.