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Nielsen: Smartphone data usage soars 89 percent

The amount of data consumed each month by the average smartphone users has jumped by 89 percent over the past year, according to a report out today from Nielsen.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney

The average smartphone owner is using 89 percent more data each month than a year ago, says a report out today from Nielsen.

Overall, the amount of data used each month rose to 435 megabytes in the first quarter of 2011, compared with 230MB during the same period last year. And those who've grabbed the largest amount of data in the past are grabbing even more now.

Monthly data usage among the top 10 percent of smartphone data users climbed 109 percent over the past year. Data usage among the top 1 percent rocketed 155 percent to 4.6 gigabytes per month from 1.8GB a year ago, according to Nielsen.

The surge in data use is coming mostly from Android and iPhone owners, who on average are consuming 582MB and 492MB per month, respectively. But data usage among Windows Phone 7 users doubled over the past two quarters, driven by a rise in the number of available mobile apps.


At the same time that data consumption has skyrocketed, most mobile users are paying less for each chunk of data, Nielsen said. The average smartphone user is now shelling out around 8 cents for each megabyte of data, compared with 14 cents a year ago.

Nielsen expects this "data tsunami" to continue as more people latch onto smartphones. Currently, 37 percent of all mobile phone owners in the U.S. use smartphones, a percentage that promises to keep growing.

Nielsen compiled its results by analyzing the cell phone bills for 65,000 smartphone owners.