According to a new study from Parks Associates, close to 50% of all US mobile phone users now pay for mobile Internet access, a reality that is driving tremendous growth in global data revenues.
The international research firm specializing in emerging consumer technology products and services estimates that mobile data services – including messaging, Internet, apps, entertainment services, and machine-to-machine – will generate upwards of $500 billion in global revenue for mobile carriers in 2015.
By comparison, global revenues for 2010 were $204 billion.
It should be noted, however, that the percentages of paying mobile Internet consumers are naturally much higher for smartphone owners. Based on the findings of the study, 95% pay for SMS, 92% pay for Internet access, 83% pay for mobile email, 63% pay for mobile navigation, and 43% pay for mobile video.
“Popular mobile content services include Verizon NFL Mobile, Sprint Navigator, China Mobile’s mobile newspaper service, and Vodafone’s MusicStation service,” says Harry Wang, director of mobile research for Parks Associates. “Carriers will derive most data revenues from access services, and content services, including mobile music, videos, games, ringtones, apps, and navigation, will supplement mobile access data services.”
As evidenced across the mobile landscape, mobile consumers have a voracious and borderline insatiable appetite for communications, information, and entertainment content on their handsets. Consequently, Wang warns, mobile carriers will be forced to adapt in order to maximize revenue potential in this hypercompetitive market. Wang advises carriers “to build a more flexible service infrastructure to prepare for the avalanche of new mobile data services and associated business models.”
“Carriers must compete with their traditional peers as well as content owners, developers, and distributors, who can circumvent a carrier’s ecosystem to offer content or services through app stores or on the mobile Internet,” Wang concludes. “The old walled garden is porous due to disruptive forces such as Apple’s integrated business model. To stay relevant and dominant, carriers must focus on making their networks the most attractive option for content delivery and distribution.”