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Average Traffic Per User is a Key Mobile Metric

According to the latest market study by Informa Telecoms & Media, mobile smartphone users generate two-thirds of the total mobile network traffic worldwide, despite the fact that only 13 percent of mobile phone service subscribers currently use smartphones.

Smartphone users spend more time on the Internet, and the data traffic that each one generates -- their average traffic per user (ATPU) -- will increase by a staggering 700 percent over the next five years.

Informa estimates that ATPU per smartphone currently averages 85MB per month. The iPhone is the highest-traffic-generating device followed by Android devices. It will retain this lead because Android devices will be spread across high-, mid- and low-user segments.

ATPU is a new metric devised by Informa to help the mobile industry measure the potential of new services and revenue streams -- such as mobile advertising. It could be a key differentiating parameter for judging the popularity of different OS platforms and related ecosystems.

"The traffic disparity between smartphone and non-smartphone is most pronounced in North America where 86 percent of mobile data traffic is currently generated by smartphone users, notably those using an iPhone or high-end Android devices," notes Malik Kamal-Saadi, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.

Smartphone ATPU here is forecast to reach a staggering 776MB/month by 2015.

Western Europe will experience similar growth. The smartphone ATPU in the region will increase almost 17 times to over 736MB/month in 2015 from under 44MB/month in 2009.

The rapid growth in these regions will be driven by both the fast migration of subscribers to higher-speed mobile networks, the proliferation of flat-rate data plans, and the availability of wide range of smartphones targeting different consumer groups with different lifestyles -- which enables people to consume content and services most relevant to them.

However, the highest smartphone ATPU will continue to come from South Korea and Japan with respective values of 271MB/month and 199MB/month expected in 2010 -- which is 2-3 times higher than the global average. These countries continue to be the overall market leaders in the global networked economy.

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