June 17, 2011 at 3:03 PM ET
The smartphone data "tsunami" in the United States continues, with users consuming more data than ever before; the amount of megabytes "consumed by the average smartphone owner" has gone up 89 percent since last year, according to The Nielsen Co.
And bon appetit! The cost of megabytes has actually gone down by 46 percent in that time, Nielsen notes, although with tiered plans becoming the norm, and some of us overpaying for what we use now, best to keep close watch on your own data use.
In a report Friday, Nielsen also said smartphone penetration increased from 23 percent to 37 percent during the same period, the first quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2011, in the United States.
And the mobile data "tsunami" continues to grow at an "astounding pace," wrote Don Kellogg, Nielsen's Telecom Research & Insights senior manager, on the company's blog.
Nielsen's monthly analysis of 65,000 cellphone bills shows that smartphone owners — "especially those with iPhones and Android devices — are consuming more data than ever before on a per-user basis. This has huge implications for carriers since the proportion of smartphone owners is also increasing dramatically."
The report continues:
In just the last 12 months, the amount of data the average smartphone user consumes per month has grown by 89 percent from 230 Megabytes (MB) in Q1 2010 to 435 MB in Q1 2011. A look at the distribution of data consumption is even more shocking: data usage for the top 10 percent of smartphone users (90th percentile) is up 109 percent while the top 1 percent (99th percentile) has grown their usage by an astonishing 155 percent from 1.8GB in Q1 2010 to over 4.6GB in Q1 2011.
"Growth in smartphone data usage is clearly being driven by app-friendly operating systems like Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android," Kellog said.
Not surprisingly, those 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."
Even as data usage has almost doubled, he said, most users are paying around what they did a year ago for data. "That 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."
Sounds like chump change, but remember, those costs can — and do — add up.