Nielsen quantifies 'mobile data tsunami'

Based on a study of phone bills from more than 60,000 mobile customers every month, Nielsen reports that average data consumption increased from about 90MB per month during Q1 2009 to 298MB per month during Q1 2010, a year-over-year increase of approximately 230 percent. At the same time, however, in Q1 2009, more than one-third of smart phone subscribers used less than 1MB of data per month, dropping to 25 percent in Q1 2010. The bottom line: About 20 million current smart phone users barely use any data at all. Furthermore, more than one-third of smart phone users still do not have a data plan.

These numbers are based on a mere 23 percent smart phone penetration in the United States, which Nielsen dubs “the early adopter phase.” What can be concluded from this report is that there is a growing need to educate smart phone users, and the onus is on operators to do a better job of conveying the value of smart phones and matching customers with the right device.