Smartphone traffic to increase 700% by 2015

Analysts Informa Telecoms & Media estimates smartphone ATPU (average traffic per user) on
mobile networks will increase 700% over the next five years.

Informa estimates that ATPU per smartphone in the US currently averages 85MB per month, and this is forecast to reach a staggering 776MB/month by 2015, where as 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 rapid 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 wide range of smartphones targeting different consumer groups with different lifestyles, which will enable users to consume content and services most relevant to them.

However, 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, which is 2-3 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 developed regions.

Of the devices mentioned in the report the iPhone is the highest-traffic-generating device followed by Android devices. It also predicts that the iPhone will retain this lead, as Android devices will be spread across high-, mid- and low-user segments.

“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.

The iPhone has an estimated ATPU value of 196MB/month in 2010, but other platforms, mainly Android and Microsoft Windows Phone, will catch up as the gap in terms of user experience is narrowing quite rapidly. Android ATPU is currentIy at 148MB/month and likely to exceed 757MB/month by 2015. Android ATPU seems to be lower than that of the iPhone largely because Android is diluted across all market segments from low- to high-end smartphones. However, ATPU of the iPhone has been already surpassed by ATPU associated with some heavy-weight Android models that have recorded ATPUs exceeding the 200MB/month mark.

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