King Data

Carl Weinschenk

There are a lot of impressive numbers in this study from ABI Research tracking the growth of mobile data services. The raw numbers the firm throws around big: The category will expand from $242 billion this year to $389 billion by 2012. Perhaps more impressive -- and it's not easy to be more impressive than growth of $147 billion -- is the fact that by the end of the study period data will represent 26 percent of average revenue per user (ARPU) of mobile data revenue.


In other words, voice will represent 74 percent of mobile ARPU. That's still a high number, of course. But it is a drop from today's figure.


It's no shock that data is growing in importance. Sometimes, however, it pays to step back and consider how much things have changed. The release outlines what ABI includes in the mobile data category. A lot of good services exist and more certainly are on the way.


This all proves that the spade work that has been done during the past few years is paying off. It also should be noted that the move of data to a predominant spot on mobile the value chain is a significant worldwide trend.


Indeed, the pieces that are being put in place are as expansive and impressive as the list of applications that they will support. Wi-Fi, WiMax and 3G are rolling out on the networking side; software optimized for myriad devices is enabling people in planes, trains and automobiles to easily use those networks, and adequate security is available.


The business and consumer sides of the business are moving in lock step and voice and data services are being integrated into the same device. Of course, the iPhone is partially a data device, as is Research in Motion's Blackberry -- which is increasingly being marketed to consumers. The point is that voice, be it delivered by cellular, Wi-Fi or WiMax, is increasingly a commodity -- and RIM, Apple and others know it.


The ascendancy of wireless data will continue. This ZDNet blog posting comments upon and links to a report in The Wall Street Journal that Google is showing prototype handsets to carriers -- T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless are mentioned by name -- that come embedded with the company's search engine, e-mail software and mobile browser. The point of the posting is that carriers may not find the deal attractive. Regardless, the effort -- as well as Google's interest in the 700 MHz spectrum auction -- shows that the company is angling into the data business.

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