Mobile Data Trends 2014

Four years on, and the ‘i's’ still have it

This is probably my favorite week of the year. After literally months of collecting and analyzing data from our ariesoGEO platform in networks around the world, I’ve seen daylight!

Four years ago, we struck upon the idea of using anonymized data from our mobile operator customers to help the industry better understand how customers really use their devices. The project name ‘Hungry Handsets’ was born and November, December and January have never been the same since. The interest in the insights born of the studies has been almost as extreme as the behavior we’ve tracked.

When you’re measuring relative consumption, you need a benchmark. We have been well served by the iPhone 3G for the past four years as it’s the device often credited with kicking off mass market mobile data use.

And, based on our data for the last four years, Apple users are consistently at the vanguard of mobile data use. If you’re a mobile operator charged with protecting and enhancing the customer experience, that’s critical insight.

The iPhone effect
We’ve seen that each new generation of iPhone users drives an increase in data consumption of between 20-40 percent.

This year’s study shows users of Apple’s iPhone 5s are the hungriest data consumers, demanding 20 percent more data than iPhone 5 users (the top-ranked users in our 2013 study) in developed markets and 50 percent more data in developing markets.

iPhone’s bigger brother
Interestingly, despite tablet ownership increasing, smartphones users continue to consume more data than tablet users. This is probably due to the fact that generations of users operate with an “always on” policy, keeping their phones on standby to receive calls, and thus continuing to consume more data in the background.

Here again, you see the dominance of Apple devices in driving data usage (the hallmark of an easy-to-use and compelling device). The 4th and 3rd generation iPads made the top ten list in developed markets, whereas no other tablet or phablet cracked the top table.

iBrothers and iSisters?
Use of the iPad mini and the iPhone 5c is a little puzzling, and don’t fit the ‘generational’ trend we’ve revealed so far.

iPad mini users consume only 80% of the downlink data of 2nd and 3rd generation iPad users. They ranked 17th hungriest in developed markets and were outside the top 20 in developing. It may be the lack of a voice codec that’s limiting usage. As we indicated last year ‘smartphones trump tablets’ when it comes to data consumption.

The iPhone 5c is another anomaly. The launch of the 5c was notable as it represented Apple’s first foray into a lower pricing grade for a handset, which some industry watchers thought would attract a younger, media savvy user, as well as new users in developing markets. One might expect, therefore, that the 5c would bring a new generation of voracious data users to market.


Wrong. iPhone 5c users place 6th in developed markets and 10th in developing markets. It goes to show that assumptions and expectations often founder in the face of contemporary mobile user behaviors. And only real world, real time, hard data can provide the insight you need if you’re trying to meet their expectations.

Family fortunes
Even with the anomalies, and after the Samsung SIII started to challenge the iFamily last year, Apple users are dominating the top table of data use. They claim six out of the top ten table spots in both developed and developing markets.

For now, at least, the ‘i’s’ still, most definitely, have it.

See the press release
Download the full report


Categories: Geo Location | LTE | Smartphones

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