No Surprises from Nielsen: Android, iOS Winning as RIM Struggles

Carl Weinschenk
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10 New Smartphones for Business

People who study astronomy are accustomed to mind-boggling numbers, such as the number of stars in the universe and the distances between them. It looks like folks who follow mobile data usage need to be just as accepting of hard-to-digest figures.

This week, Nielsen released statistics on smartphone data usage. The firm, which analyzed smartphone bills for more than 65,000 lines, says that usage is increasing on two axes: Users are consuming more data and the percentage of smartphone users in the total mobile population, now at 37 percent, steadily is rising.

Of course a year ago at this time, smartphone users were consuming a great deal of data. Thus, it's a big deal that during the year average usage has increased 89 percent. In raw numbers, average usage increased from 230 MB to 435 MB in the first quarters of 2010 and 2011.

The big users, according to Nielsen, are using more:

A look at the distribution of data consumption is even more shocking: data usage for the top 10 percent of smartphone users (90th percentile) is up 109 percent while the top 1 percent (99th percentile) has grown their usage by an astonishing 155 percent from 1.8GB in Q1 2010 to over 4.6GB in Q1 2011.


The top two operating systems are no surprise. iPhone users consume an average of 492 MB for the iPhone and 582 MB for Android. A bit more intriguing, according to Nielsen, is that Windows Phone 7 doubled its usage during the past two quarters though, of course, it is starting from a smaller base.

The fact that Android is growing faster than iOS probably can be explained, to an extent, by its fast growth in application revenue. eWeek reports on Millennial Media's research on how the two operating systems performed in May on this front. Just as a good farm system is a sure sign of which baseball team will win over the long haul, the best job of attracting developers and generating applications is a key to who will win among end users in the marketplace.

Things are not going so well for Research In Motion, however. Quarterly results, according to The Guardian, were disappointing, though shipments and revenues were up. Profits were down 9.6 percent compared to the year-ago quarter. The bottom line is not good. The links here are in the site's original post:

Here's what's wrong: RIM's platform is burning. Except that this isn't the fully-fledged conflagration that Stephen Elop perceived at Nokia. It's more of a smouldering. But it's happening nonetheless, and it's been happening for a long time: RIM hasn't released a major new phone since August 2010. (Yes, that's nearly as long as Apple.) It sort-of showed off a new version of the Torch in May; that will actually be released in September. (Way to kill the sales, people.)

The use of smartphones and the data explosion will continue. At this point, the winners are Apple and Google, with RIM struggling to survive. That is no guarantee, however, that the stars will eventually align differently.


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