Mobile App Development Driving Increase in Smartphone Data Usage
Well, here I sit in a weird little coffee shop in Lake Leelanau, Michigan, where I’ve finally found a Wi-Fi connection. They tell me that if I get close enough to Traverse City I’ll be able to get a 3G connection on my iPhone, but I’m mostly crippled while I’m here.
It was interesting, then, that as I reviewed all the messages and information that was waiting for me when I reconnected, I came across this Nielson blog on their analysis of mobile data usage.
Nielson reports some interesting statistics on 2010-2011 data usage trends for smartphone users. A few interesting findings: for Apple iOS and Android, data usage has grown 89% per user. As the costs for accessing this data haven’t changed much in the same period, that results in an effective cost reduction of about 46% per MB. We’re actually capturing a little value from carriers at the moment; it’s great news. (It won’t last, by the way…but that’s another blog for another day.)
When I start to think about why the amount of data usage has grown so much, it gets more interesting.
In the past 12 months we’ve seen more and better development of mobile applications and mobile operating systems themselves. People have more and more ways to use their smartphones, and therefore data usage on those smartphones is increasing.
It gets even easier to see the connection when you break down usage trends by mobile operating system, and think about the app development trends this past year on each OS. The same research data from Nielson shows – data usage on Android devices is the highest (an average of 582MB per month) as Android app development has exploded in the past 12 months. Apple’s iOS holds a strong second both in sheer quantity of new apps and in data usage (492 MB per month). While newer and still lagging behind, Windows 7 phone data usage has doubled (to 317 MB per month) to follow the app development trend.
So what does it mean? It means that the way to incent more people to use smartphones is to continue broadening the applications of smartphones. Literally.
Because the more stuff I can do on my iPhone the less of my vacation I’ll have to spend sitting in a coffee shop listening to the local hippies talk about how bad the bugs were this spring.
So I say, bring on the apps.