Nielson: Smartphone data usage up 89% in a year

Nielsen's monthly analysis of mobile-phone bills for more than 65,000 lines showed, not surprisingly, that the amount of data the average smartphone user consumes per month grew 89 percent in the last 12 months, jumping from 230 MB in the first quarter 2010 to 435 MB in the first quarter 2011.

The research firm, which analyzed more than 65,000 mobile-phone bills, also found that data usage for the top 10 percent of smartphone users increased 109 percent while the top 1 percent grew their usage by 155 percent from 1.8GB in 2010 to more than 4.6GB in 2011.

"Growth in smartphone data usage is clearly being driven by app-friendly operating systems like Apple's iOS and Google's Android," concluded Don Kellogg, senior manager of Nielson's Telecom Research & Insights, in a blog post. "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 over the past two quarters, perhaps due to growth in the number of applications available.

Kellogg said users are paying around what they did a year ago for data, which 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 percent in the last year, from 14 cents per megabyte (MB) to a mere 8 cents," Kellogg wrote.

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