Android, iPhone users outpace BlackBerry, Symbian users in data usage

iPad users don't use more data than smartphone users, whereas Blackberry and Nokia Symbian users focus on voice communications

It's no surprise that iPhone and Android users are using more data today than the iPhone users of two years ago (when there were no popular Android devices). But a recent report from Arieso, a British firm that provides cellular carriers software to optimize their network performance, does contain surprises, and it reveals how much people are using data services on their cellular devices.

iPhone and Android users are about evenly matched in their data usage, typically consuming between 40 to 60 per cent more than an iPhone 3G user. The percentages vary based on device model and when looking at uploads versus downloads, but the general trends are the same for the two platforms. Android users tend to connect to data services more often than iPhone users, but their total bandwidth usage was generally the same. That suggests Android users' data activities are shorter or less bandwidth-oriented.

[ Learn how to manage iPhones, Androids, BlackBerrys, and other smartphones in InfoWorld's 20-page Mobile Management Deep Dive PDF special report. | Keep up on key mobile developments and insights with the Mobile Edge blog and Mobilize newsletter. ]

By contrast, BlackBerry and Nokia Symbian users continue to be low data consumers, using on average less than a quarter of the data of an iPhone 3G user and less than a fifth of what current iPhone and Android users consume. Among BlackBerry and Nokia users, BlackBerry Bold 9700 users were online most frequently, connecting to data services as often as iPhone 3G users -- but they consumed much less data than even iPhone 3G users, which indicates they are not doing as many online or bandwidth-consuming activities as iPhone and Android users. That likely reflects the paucity of applications and limited Web experience for the BlackBerry and Nokia platforms.

The most surprising conclusions are that iPad users consume no more data than iPhone and Android users and they connect to the 3G services as often as their smartphone brethren. Users of 3G modems for laptops, by contrast, were very heavy data users, connecting nearly four times as often as iPhone 3G users (more than twice as often as modern iPhone and Android users), downloading more than 20 times as much data, and uploading more than 30 times as much data.

Another surprising conclusion is that Android owners used their devices' phone (voice) capabilities much less than iPhone users -- about two-thirds of an iPhone 3G user's voice usage. iPhone 4 users talked about 93 per cent as much as iPhone 3G users, representing a small decrease. Nokia Symbian users talked about 35 per cent more than iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry users, indicating that their devices are used primarily for traditional communication. BlackBerry users -- all of which had various Bold models -- were inconsistent in their talk percentages, ranging from 73 to 107 per cent of an iPhone 3G user.

The Arieso report is based on analyzing traffic over a 24-hour period in one European city on one major carrier network. The data includes only popular 3G-capable devices (those with more than 10,000 devices connecting to the network during that period). The European location accounts for the inclusion of Nokia Symbian data, as that platform is widely used in Europe.

This article, "Android, iPhone users outpace BlackBerry, Symbian users in data usage," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter.

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Galen Gruman

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