What type of data are smartphone users consuming?

The United States still lags behind Europe and Asia in wireless data network speeds, but our consumption of data is increasing in the areas of mobile entertainment. A new study reveals some interesting aspects of our data consumption and what hardware is popular in the U.S. and Europe for consuming this data.

I was checking out the RSS feeds of my favorite sites this morning and ran across an All About Symbian article linking to an interesting survey regarding mobile data consumption. The M:Metrics May Benchmark Survey, conducted from here where I live in Washington State, found that there is a small number of smartphone users, but that a large percentage of those users are consuming lots of mobile content. The interesting aspect of the mobile data consumption is that much of that consumption is for video, games and music, rather than email, surfing, or other more business focused data tasks.


The study presents results for France, Germany, United Kingdom, and the United States and is based on a three month average. A good size sample of people were surveyed from every country, ranging from 12,631 to 33,952 respondents. Obviously, smartphones are much more popular in Europe, which is where I generally purchase the latest and greatest gizmos myself. Video consumption was lowest in the U.S. and I think that the lack of 3G networks in all our markets has a lot to do with that. Email was at least twice as popular in the U.S. over every other country and as shown later in the survey text messaging is at least twice as popular in Europe as it is in the U.S.

In addition to usage, it was also interesting to see how the hardware compared between the U.S. and European countries. Nokia definitely has the market cornered in Europe where the most popular devices in the U.S. seem to be Treos and BlackBerries. Windows Mobile has been getting much stronger and now all the U.S. carriers have Phone Edition and Smartphone devices so I expect to see the proliferation of Windows Mobile gain in the U.S. I personally use a Nokia smartphone as my primary device and think one reason Nokia may not be as popular in the U.S. is that there is very little advertising or education (many people don't even know their S60 Nokia device is a smartphone) regarding these devices. Also, carriers don't promote or offer many of the latest and greatest Nokia smartphones, which is a shame given that these devices are extremely stable and the phone features and performance is very high quality.

I have had a T-Mobile unlimited data plan for over 4 years and today I can regularly consume 100MB+ of data in a month, primarily in email and web surfing from my mobile devices. Once T-Mobile gets 3G networks up and running I am sure that consumption will increase because I may then start slinging TV with the Sling Box on the go.