Sunday, 8 January 2012

Appy smartphone and tablet users are heavy consumers of wireless bandwidth




The smartphones are gaining ground in the Western world and also in Asia. Still just 13.2 percent of the world’s 6.1 billion cellphones are smartphones, according to Ericsson, the leading maker of mobile network equipment, but the rate exceeds 30 percent in larger markets like the United States, Germany and Britain.Whilst many people still use their mobile phones for calls and text messaging, the more advanced users are taking up more and more of the wireless bandwidth. Fuelled by new smartphones, apps and services consumer demand for mobile data is accelerating beyond expectations, finds a new report from Arieso. The study carried out by Arieso tracked 1.1 million customers of a European mobile operator during a 24-hour period in November. The top 10 percent of users are consuming 90 percent of wireless bandwidth, and just 1% of all users now consume HALF of the entire downlink data. This suggests that heavy users of media and streaming services just use more and more of the available bandwidth. 


The more powerful phones are rapidly replacing the simpler devices in many countries. In countries like Sweden and Finland, smartphones now account for half of all mobile phones, according to Rewheel, a research firm in Helsinki. About 35 percent of Finns also use mobile laptop modems and dongles, or modems in a USB stick.  Tablet users are also increasing in numbers, according to some media sources tablets could be as many as 150,000 in Finland following this Christmas. That's already starting to make a market for Apps in a country with a population of only 5 million. However, consumption of mobile media content has really surged as the number of smartphone users has jumped in Finland recently. Some media services enjoy as many as 400,000 unique visitors in a week, which is a big leap from the usage just a year ago.


The number of applications downloaded in one week hit a new global record following Christmas:  Flurry Analytics estimates that in the final seven days of 2011, 1.2 billion apps were downloaded worldwide across both Android and iOS, representing a 60 percent jump over a typical week. In 2011 Apple’s App Store was on pace to exceed 10 billion downloads, which was twice the number it recorded over the three previous years combined. Likewise, the Android Market is also setting records.


In the new year, Flurry is forecasting that application downloads will frequently break the one-billion-a-week mark.

As a result of an increasing number of smart mobile devices, Finns consume on average 1 gigabyte of wireless data a month over an operator’s network, almost 10 times the European average. As more consumers buy smartphones, the level of mobile data consumption and congestion will rise. This puts pressure on consumers and operators to upgrade their services, however, the cost of mobile data has been decreasing lately as operators compete for new customers. As for myself, I have recently upgraded my monthly data package to 1 gigabyte for my iPhone and 3 gigabytes for my iPad, although I try to use the tablet mainly in Wi-Fi networks. Otherwise the cost of downloading large media content apps and video clips will be too high. It will be interesting to see what will happen to wireless bandwidth in Europe and USA, will it become scarce and therefore put an upward pressure on prices as suggested in the linked article in NYTimes.com. There were quite a few comments from consumers to this article, mainly critical to the study and its intentions.