Explosive Mobile Data Growth Accounting for Surge in Global Operator Revenues

By Beecher Tuttle April 30, 2012

Global mobile revenues will reach $1.5 trillion in 2012, representing more than two percent of the world's total gross domestic product (GDP), according to a new report from Chetan Sharma, a technology and strategy consultant.

The State of the Global Mobile Union report highlights the dramatic shift in operator revenue from legacy services like voice and SMS to non-messaging mobile data services, which accounted for $157 billion in 2011. More than 50 global operators will generate more than $1 billion in data revenues in 2012. By 2015, mobile data will account for roughly 95 percent of total global mobile traffic.

U.S. operators are powering the surge in mobile data growth even though they are adding subscriptions at a lower rate than competitors in other nations. The U.S. currently accounts for 26 percent of global data revenues and 27 percent of global CAPEX while only maintaining a 6-percent subscriber market share.

In contrast, China and India represent 27 percent of subscriptions but only 12 percent of global service revenues, according to the report. This inequity is mainly due to the shrinking market for less data-hungry feature phones in the U.S.

Nearly 70 percent of U.S. device sales are currently smartphones. The global figure stands at approximately 32 percent.

"Some operators expect 90-95 percent of their device sales to be smartphones in 2012," said Sharma. "In terms of the actual smartphone penetration, we expect the US market to eclipse the 50-percent mark in 2012."

Other figures included in the report:

Samsung and Apple now account for 50 percent of the smartphone unit share and 90 percent of the profit share – setting a dreary landscape for pure play device OEMs.

Total global subscriptions are expected to exceed 7 billion in early 2013, powered mainly by strong subscriber growth in Asia.

The explosive growth of the mobile segment has helped to create several multi-billion dollar opportunity industries, including mobile advertising, mobile commerce, mobile games and mobile cloud computing.

Edited by Braden Becker

TechZone360 Contributor

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