Smartphones, iPads & the state of the mobile Internet

The first quarter of 2011 turned out to be a big one for smartphone makers, especially Apple and Android-based device makers such as Samsung. In the US alone, slightly more than half of the phones sold were smartphones, which now account for 80 percent of the revenues from phones sold in the US. Smartphones — along with the booming demand for personal hotspots, tablets and iPads — have caused mobile data usage to explode, increasing by 130 percent during the first quarter of 2011 versus the first quarter of 2010, according to Akamai and Ericsson. In comparison, voice is becoming less important on wireless networks.

In its first quarter 2011 State of the Internet report, Akamai presents some illuminating highlights about mobile data usage. For instance on seven mobile carriers, one user consumed, on average, more than one gigabyte of content from the Akamai network. The carriers were in Hong Kong (3.75 GB/month), Indonesia 2.97 GB/month), France (1.42 GB/month), Germany (1.97 GB/month), Slovakia (1.83 GB/month), Australia (1.65 GB/month) and Puerto Rico (2.23 GB/month.)

Other factoids from the report include:

  • The average monthly 3G traffic is the highest for laptops (1-7 GB), followed by tablets (250-800 MB) and smartphones (80-600 MB)
  • Online video (30–40 percent) is the largest contributor to mobile traffic volume, followed by Web browsing (20–30 percent).
  • On tablets & smartphones, online audio, e-mail, software downloads, and social networking traffic are big consumers of 3G data traffic.
  • Tablet and smartphone devices usually have frequent and short sessions typically during the whole day, sometimes showing a periodic nature.
  • Laptops are usually on mobile connections for a few longer sessions, mainly during daytime and the evening.
  • Tablet traffic patterns over 3G mobile networks are much closer to smartphone traffic patterns than to laptop traffic patterns.