Buzz continues to swirl about the increasing impact of video in the wireless world, but a new report from Analysys Mason indicates social media is still outpacing video as the largest consumer of time spent and data on smartphones.
According to the firm’s figures, the entertainment category more broadly accounts for nearly a third of all time spent on smartphones, as well as 57 percent of data usage. But among that category’s sub-segments, social media remains the primary driver of usage.
Analysys Mason found social media use of sites like Facebook was the “largest single contributor” to time spent on a smartphone, accounting for around 15 percent of an average of 171 minutes spent overall. In the United States in particular, the proportion of time spent on social media was even higher, at nearly 23 percent – or about 39 minutes per day on average.
The data-rich nature of many social networking sites and apps has also kept social media on top in terms of data usage, gobbling up 29 percent of all data. By comparison, dedicated TV and video services like YouTube were close in terms of data usage (24 percent of data used), but lagged significantly in time spent, with just 6 percent.
But just how much data is being used?
Analysys Mason found data usage was highest in the United Kingdom, at an average of 15 GB per month, while it was lowest in Germany, at an average of 7.5 GB per month. Of the 15 GB used on average in the United Kingdom, the firm found entertainment activities as a whole accounted for some 10 GB of usage.
And while that surge undoubtedly has an impact on operators, the firm noted that the brunt (85 percent) of that traffic is flowing over WiFi.
Those figures are interesting to compare to a previous forecast from Ericsson that indicated smartphone owners in North America are expected to increase their average data usage from less than 5 GB per month in 2015 to 22 GB per month within the next several years. That figure is 1.2 times the 18 GB per month projected for Western Europe by 2021 and three times the 7 GB usage expected for the Asia Pacific by that time. The company also predicted video will account for almost 70 percent of all mobile data traffic by 2021.
On T-Mobile’s first quarter earnings call last month, CTO Neville Ray indicated the Un-carrier’s data traffic is increasing around 40 percent annually. And Verizon exec indicated LTE data traffic in its first quarter jumped by 57 percent over the prior year, thanks in part to its introduction of unlimited plans.
Analysys Mason’s report was based on real-world usage data collected by Verto Analytics from more than 8,000 smartphones in Germany, India, the United States and United Kingdom. The information was gathered using a passive on-device monitoring app, the firm said.
More from the report can be found here.