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iPhone users account for 80% of the heaviest smartphone data users, Analysys Mason reports

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On average, iPhone customers use more data than any other smartphone users, and account for 80% of the top 10% of heaviest data users, according to a new report examining consumer smartphone trends from global telecoms, media and technology (TMT) specialist Analysys Mason. Of those smartphone consumers who are in the 70th percentile or above in terms of data usage, iPhone users appear more than three times as frequently as the next most ‘data-hungry’ consumer segment – users who have Android on HTC devices.

The report, Consumer smartphone usage: key findings from an on-device tracker, is based on data derived from Arbitron Mobile’s on-device monitoring app that provided access to the smartphone behaviour of more than 1000 panellists for two months in the USA, UK, France, Germany and Spain. The report details the day-to-day ‘realities’ of how people use their smartphones, particularly in terms of cellular and Wi-Fi data traffic, apps and mobile content integration.

Average smartphone data traffic levels are very heavily skewed by the high data usage of a small group of individuals. Based on our analysis, this high usage at the top end of the user base means that average monthly smartphone data traffic levels – which stood at 807MB per month for our panel – are 3.5 times higher than median data traffic levels generated by individual users (221MB per month).

Nearly 1 million unique apps are available globally, but the report found that each consumer taking part in the study used an average of only 32.6 ‘add-on’ apps during the two-month observation period. Of those apps, 47% were used only once during that time.

“This indicates that the mobile app market suffers from a significant amount of overhead,” explained Ronan de Renesse, co-author of the report and Principal Analyst of Analysys Mason’s Mobile Content and Applications and Mobile Broadband and Devices research programmes. “Although it works as an innovation and experimentation platform, the app market has many failures and misconceptions.”

When comparing mobile operating systems, the report reveals that Android and iPhone users used ‘long-tail’ apps (apps that are outside the top 25 by number of users) 10 times more than consumers with BlackBerry or Symbian devices, despite similar overall penetration levels.

Email has eclipsed SMS as a more widely used communication method, but only just; 97% of panellists used SMS, but 98% used email during the two-month period of observation.

“Email, along with over-the-top messaging services, will probably continue to substitute for some SMS usage,” explained Martin Scott, co-author of the report and Principal Analyst. “This raises questions as to whether SMS is sustainable as a chargeable service.”

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