Informa says smartphones account for almost 65percent of worldwide mobile traffic
By Anthony Capkun
November 3, 2010
Smartphone users are generating two-thirds of total mobile cellular traffic worldwide, despite the fact that only 13% of mobile subscribers use smartphones (excluding mobile broadband traffic generated by laptops and other portable devices, as well as Wi-Fi traffic offload). And as these smartphone users spend more time on the internet, the traffic that each one generates (average traffic per user, or ATPU) will increase by 700% over the next five years.
According to Informa Telecoms & Media, the ATPU per smartphone
currently averages 85MB per month, with the iPhone reigning as the
highest-traffic-generating device followed by Android devices.
Informa devised the ATPU metric to help the mobile industry measure the
potential of new services and revenue streams, such as mobile
advertising. ATPU could also be used by operators as a key
differentiating parameter for judging the popularity of different OS
platforms and related ecosystems, says Informa.
“The traffic disparity between smartphone and non-smartphone is most
pronounced in North America, where 86% of mobile data traffic is
currently generated by smartphone users, notably those using an iPhone
or high-end Android devices,” notes Malik Kamal-Saadi, principal analyst
at Informa Telecoms & Media. Smartphone ATPU here is forecast to
reach a 776MB/month by 2015.
Western Europe will also enjoy rapid growth, and the smartphone ATPU in
the region will increase almost 17 times to over 736MB/month in 2015
from under 44MB/month in 2009. The growth in these regions will be
driven by both the fast migration of subscribers to higher-speed mobile
networks, the proliferation of flat-rate data plans and the availability
of a range of smartphones targeting different consumer groups with
The highest smartphone ATPU will continue to come from South Korea and
Japan, with respective values of 271MB/month and 199MB/month expected in
2010—two to three times higher than the global average.
In contrast, smartphones remain a status symbol for the majority of
users in emerging markets, who still use cellular networks largely for
voice and SMS rather than to access mobile data services. As a result,
ATPU in these regions is not expected to exceed 43MB/month in 2010, and
could be as low as 13MB/month in some African countries. The low
penetration of mobile broadband networks, the lack of compelling local
content and the proliferation of prepaid subscribers are among the
reasons why smartphone ATPU in emerging markets will lag behind this in
There will also be a significant difference in the ATPU associated with
the different OS platforms. iPhone will continue to lead the smartphone
ATPU thanks to its user experience, says Informa. Also, because the
iPhone will continue to target premium users with high ATPUs, it is
likely to remain leading the ATPU worldwide with an estimated value of
196MB/month in 2010.
Informa expects other platforms, mainly Android and Microsoft Windows
Phone, to catch up to the iPhone, as the gap in user experience is
narrowing rapidly. Android ATPU is currently at 148MB/month and likely
to exceed 757MB/month by 2015. (ATPU of the iPhone has already been
surpassed by ATPU associated with some heavy-weight Android models that
have recorded ATPUs exceeding the 200MB/month mark.)
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