A new study has found that Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 5S users were the “hungriest” data consumers on the planet in 2013. Researchers at JDSU’s (NASDAQ:JDSU) Location Intelligence Business Unit studied mobile data usage trends in multiple developed and developing markets operating 3G and 4G networks and found that Apple’s iPhone 5S accounted for the lion’s share of total mobile data usage.
As noted by JDSU, Apple users were already the biggest consumers of mobile data in 2010, 2011, and 2012. However, the data consumption on Apple’s iPhone 5S is “the most intense witnessed to date.”
The study found that iPhone 5S users consumed seven times as much data as benchmark iPhone 3G users in developed markets, a 20 percent jump from the iPhone 5. In developing markets, iPhone 5S users consumed 20 times as much data as benchmark iPhone 3G users, an increase of 50 percent over the iPhone 5.
“Each new generation of iPhone has resulted in increases in data consumption of between 20-40 percent — even today when data use is common,” noted Michael Flanagan, CTO of mobility for the Network and Service Enablement business segment of JDSU and author of the study. “Though interestingly, users of the more economically-priced iPhone 5c consume data in the range between that of the iPhone 4s and 5 users.”
Although Apple’s other device users consume less than iPhone 5S customers, overall Apple users still account for the majority share of total data usage among smartphone users. According to JDSU’s study, Apple’s iPhones claimed a total of six spots in the top 10 “hungriest handsets.” Two Samsung (SSNLF.PK) devices, one HTC device, and one Sony (NYSE:SNE) device took the other four spots.
Although Apple device users downloaded more data than most users of other devices, Samsung users produced and uploaded more data. According to JDSU’s study, Samsung Galaxy S4 users uploaded five times as much data as benchmark iPhone 3G users in developed markets and 11 times as much data in developing markets. The study did not offer a reason for the difference in uplink and downlink data usage between Apple and Samsung users.
Flanagan noted that faster network speeds have fueled users’ data consumption rates and have raised questions about the long-term viability of current network designs. “For the past three years we’ve seen explosive growth in mobile data usage, causing operators to have to wrestle with the challenges their success is creating,” said Flanagan in the report.
Not surprisingly, the study found that the biggest “data hogs” were found on the 4G network. According to JDSU’s study, 4G users were 10 times more data hungry than 3G users in 2013. Over half of all 4G downlink data was consumed by just 0.1 percent of 4G users. On the other hand, half of 3G downlink data was consumed by 1 percent of 3G users.
“The faster the speeds that mobile operators provide, the more consumers swallow it up and demand more,” according to Flanagan. “One would expect a honeymoon period in which early adopters test their toys. But for 4G users to consistently exhibit behaviour [sic] 10 times more extreme than 3G users well after launch constitutes a seismic shift in the data landscape. This has important ramifications for future network designs.”
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