According to separate research by a number of companies, connectivity has gripped the consumer electronics world.Three new reports out this week paint a rosy picture for mobile devices with embedded connectivity and mobile network operators.
According to Cisco, global mobile data traffic grew 2.6-fold in 2010, nearly tripling for the third year in a row.
Last year’s mobile data traffic was three times the size of the entire global Internet in 2000, rising from 75 petabytes per month to 237 petabytes per month.
The company says mobile video traffic will also exceed the 50 percent mark for the first time ever this year.
The trends are not surprising on the back of proliferating use of smartphones and other connected devices. The average amount of traffic per smartphone doubled in 2010 from 35 MB per month in 2009 to 79 MB per month.
Another interesting statistic which Cisco threw in is that at the beginning of the year, iPhone consumption was at least 4 times higher than that of any other smartphone platform. Toward the end of the year, iPhone consumption was only 1.75 times higher than that Android.
New research from Berg Insight shows the number of devices shipped with embedded mobile broadband also doubled in 2010.
While notebooks are still dominant in mobile connectivity, tablets, e-readers and PNDs are also growing rapidly.
22 million connected devices were shipped in 2010 compared to 11 million in 2009.
Johan Svanberg, Senior Analyst at Berg Insight, said: “The sheer availability of affordable devices with embedded connectivity has exploded during the last year with substantial price reductions on connected personal navigation devices and popular e-readers such as the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook.”
Svanberg said the Apple iPad had caused the tablet market to take off, with 17.1 million tablets sold worldwide in 2010, of which 3.9 million have mobile connectivity.
In 2010, 3 million tablets were connected to the mobile network, and each tablet generated 5 times more traffic than the average smartphone.
Heightened consumer awareness, decreasing prices of modules and chipsets together with massive global deployments of high speed cellular networks such as LTE will have a great positive impact on the market, Svanberg added.
According to Cisco, there were 94 million laptops on the mobile network in 2010, and each laptop generated 22 times more traffic than the average smartphone. Nonsmartphone usage increased 2.2-fold to 3.3 MB per month in 2010, and there are 48 million people in the world who have mobile phones, even though they do not have electricity at home. The mobile network has extended even beyond the boundaries of the power grid.
Despite the increase in traffic, Svanberg said there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to wireless data subscriptions and a great deal of business innovation is needed in order to make embedded cellular connectivity a common feature in consumer devices.
In the next five years, shipments of connected consumer electronics devices are forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 65.2 percent to reach 271 million in 2015, while global mobile data traffic will increase 26-fold between 2010 and 2015, reaching 6.3 exabytes per month by 2015.
Independent research from ABI Research indicates that mobile broadband-enabled subscriptions are also increasing rapidly, and will hit the one billion mark this year.
ABI says there were more than five billion mobile subscriptions globally in 2010, with one in five of those having access to mobile broadband.
Another 28 percent growth or 6.6 billion wireless subscriptions is expected by 2016, with 40 percent, or twice the current percentage of users, being mobile broadband-enabled.
Research Associate Fei Feng Seet, said the growth was due to the need to stay connected everywhere. He said: “With the proliferation of mobile broadband, it has become increasingly common to have multiple mobile connections per user. The main motivation is the desire to stay connected everywhere, with more high speed 4G wireless networks lighting up, and a huge increase in the popularity of social connectivity.”
Despite many markets reaching saturation with penetration levels in excess of 100 percent, mobile network operators still have a lot more to look forward to, Feng Seet said.
Chinese and Indian operators are now the top five mobile network operators measured by subscriptions, putting Verizon Wireless in the US into sixth place. As of the third quarter of 2010, China Mobile alone accounted for 11 percent of all global mobile subscriptions.
In terms of subscriptions, worldwide mobile penetration now stands above 75 percent, of which the Asia-Pacific region accounts for close to half.
Cisco predicts the mobile-only Internet population will grow 56-fold from 14 million at the end of 2010 to 788 million by the end of 2015 and there will be over 7.1 billion mobile-connected devices, including machine-to-machine (M2M) modules, in 2015-approximately equal to the world’s population in 2015 (7.2 billion).